After a controversy surrounding the handling of an incident where an art history instructor showed depictions of the Prophet Muhammad during an Islamic art class, Fayneese Miller, president of the university, announced she will retire on June 30, 2024. In January, a large majority of the university’s faculty urged President Miller to resign. They thought that she did not support the academic freedom of the faculty member who had shown the image in class after warning students that the image would be shown and that they were free to leave the room if they did not want to be exposed to the image. The instructor did not have her contract renewed and is suing the university. Neither the university nor President Miller mentioned the controversy in the announcement of her resignation.
Dr. Miller was named the 20th president of Hamline University in 2015. She is the first African American to hold the position.
“It has been an honor and privilege to lead Hamline University, an institution that values social justice, equity, inclusion, and civic engagement through its service-learning opportunities for students and curriculum offerings,” Dr. Miller said. “It has been a pleasure working together with board members, students, faculty, staff, and the community in enhancing Hamline University’s strong commitment to maintaining high academic standards, creating a sense of belonging for all on campus, and developing students who understand and appreciate their role as members of a civil society.”
Before coming to Hamline University, Dr. Miller was dean of the College of Education and Social Services and professor of leadership and developmental sciences at the University of Vermont. She had been on the faculty at the University of Vermont for nearly a decade. Previously, she taught at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, for 20 years, where she was the founding chair of the ethnic studies program. At Brown, Dr. Miller was the first native-born African American woman to be appointed associate professor with tenure.
President Miller is a graduate of Hampton University in Virginia, where she majored in psychology. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in experimental psychology from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.