February 14, 2013
In Wake of Academic Freedom Fight, OT Professor Leaves—and Seminary Prepares To Merge
(UPDATED) Milligan College likely to acquire Emmanuel Christian Seminary, while Old Testament professor jumps ship.
Emmanuel Christian Seminary (ECS) is getting what it wanted—sort of.
The school's academic freedom debate with tenured professor Chris Rollston prompted Rollston's voluntary resignation, but the fallout from the scandal has contributed to the school likely being absorbed by neighboring Milligan College.
It's a surprising resolution to a familiar debate in Christian higher education: How much academic freedom do professors have to disagree with their school's theological positions?
Rollston, a tenured professor of Old Testament and Semitic studies, wrote for the Huffington Post against the marginalization of women, an issue that prompted ECS to threaten to dismiss him for causing crises of faith among students.
Seminary president Michael Sweeney also alleged that Rollston's writing "was damaging Emmanuel’s 'brand identity.'" Now Sweeney has announced that he and leaders from nearby Milligan College have entered talks about ECS's integration with Milligan.
"No definitive decisions or agreements have been reached," states the seminary's news release. "Today’s decision to prepare a non-binding Letter of Intent formalizes the period of due diligence in order to fully investigate the financial, academic, administrative, and logistical details of such an arrangement."
CT has regularly reported on academic freedom debates, including whether seminary professors should be granted tenure, as well as whether it matters why professors agree with their college's faith statements.
Editor's note: This article has been updated to clarify that the current discussion between ECS and Milligan College is non-binding.