Three questions about the Hamline-Emmer dispute

What exactly is an agreement -- and who should have a say?

We’ve been having a hard time getting Hamline University folks to answer our calls or make any further statements on the dispute between Tom Emmer and Hamline over whether the university reneged on an agreement to hire him an an “executive-in-residence” and adjunct professor because of faculty unrest.

So far the main points of information have come from this Pioneer Press article, the accompanying letter by Emmer to Hamline President Linda Hanson, and this Hamline Oracle article on the matter.

I’ll let you go into the facts of the matter through the links above.

The crux of the matter seems to regard two points:

  • whether Emmer and Hamline indeed had an agreement beyond the “chat” stage, and;
  • whether he was dropped because faculty had issues with his political beliefs.

In today’s official written statement from Hamline to reporters, the university directly addressed the first:

Hamline was in discussions with Mr. Emmer about the opportunity for him to teach a business law class, and we were working together on a proposal that would position him as executive-in-residence within our business school. Although there were conversations over several months about the opportunity for Mr. Emmer to join the Hamline faculty, there was no finalized agreement between Mr. Emmer and the university.

It has not, however, directly addressed the second issue in either article. Spokeswoman JacQui Getty said merely that the business school already had two executives-in-residence, and that “the decision was made not to hire a third.”

(Reportedly, business professor David Schultz has largely said that although some faculty members were apparently upset over Emmer’s politics, he didn’t say how much of a factor that played in the administration’s hiring decision.)

Does silence on that matter necessarily say anything?

Obviously, as a private institution, Hamline can hire whom it wants. The situation, however, raises a few questions:

  1. What exactly constitutes an agreement? (Remember the Tubby Smith case? No written contract there, either.) It would help if Emmer showed any of the paperwork, email or formal offer (which he says exists) that would show what stage they were in.
  2. What exactly is the hiring process for non-tenured faculty, and how much of a say does (or should) the existing faculty have? Did Hamline deviate from it, as Schultz told the Oracle? Is faculty input appropriate for such a case?
  3. Should political opinions (such as Emmer’s stance on same-sex marriage) be considered when they’re not related to the subject at hand (business law)?

Thoughts?

Any factors I’ve left out?

I’ll be digging around the faculty handbook and making a few calls.