Tom Emmer came within a few thousand votes of winning the Minnesota governor's seat last November. This November, the Republican politician came similarly close to teaching an undergraduate business law course at Hamline University -- until, he says, his political views got in the way.
Emmer said the university decided to hire him as an adjunct faculty member in October, but the next month, opposition to his hiring surfaced after a meeting with other faculty members. By the next week, officials told Emmer, who is known for his stance opposing gay marriage, that he would not be teaching at Hamline.
In a letter to Linda N. Hanson, Hamline’s president, Emmer said: “Apparently, because of the very vocal few, the University was not going to honor our agreement.… [I]ncredibly, because of my conservative political views I will not be allowed to teach business law to Hamline students.”
JacQui Getty, a Hamline spokeswoman, said there had been no agreement between Emmer and the university.
“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,” Getty said in an e-mail message.
Emmer thinks otherwise. He shared with Inside Higher Ed an e-mail from Oct. 7, in which Kristen Norman-Major, director of the public administration programs in the school of business at Hamline, introduces Emmer to some other faculty members and says that he is going to be teaching the Business Law course.
“This is Tom’s first time teaching the course. I have given him a copy of your syllabus but am hoping you would be able to let him know exactly what text you are using and anything else that might be helpful for him,” she said.
A Dec. 5 article in Hamline's student newspaper quoted David A. Schultz, an adjunct professor at Hamline's law school, as saying that some faculty members had complained to administrators about Emmer's possible hiring, citing two issues: his stance on same-sex marriage and the fact that he was being hired without a hiring committee or faculty review. Schultz, who did not return phone calls or e-mail messages Wednesday, told the student paper that there was conflicting information on whether Emmer had been hired. (The newspaper also corrected its assertion that he had been hired.)
“To say I’m disappointed would be an understatement,” Emmer said about the situation. “We don’t have to agree with each other but we can learn from each other. I was going to teach a business law course, not a political science course.”
He added: “I think universities should be places of tolerance where, hopefully, different perspectives are welcome.... Talk of bigotry, this is not racial but this is political bigotry and it is of the worst kind.”