Hamline University hires new president a year after academic freedom controversy

An exterior look at Hamline university buildings02
Hamline University buildings in the snow on Friday, Jan. 13, 2023.
Ben Hovland | MPR News

Hamline University has hired a new president.

The St. Paul liberal arts school selected Dr. Kathleen Murray to be the 21st president of the institution.

The change comes a year after Hamline became embroiled in a controversy over academic freedom and a student’s complaint about showing the image of the Prophet Muhammed during an art class.

The controversy put the school in the international spotlight, and faculty at Hamline ended up voting to ask current Hamline President Fayneese Miller to resign because of it.

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Kathleen Murray
Kathleen Murray will be the new president of Hamline University.
Courtesy of Whitman College

Miller is set to begin a sabbatical on Jan. 1, 2024, when Murray will assume the role of acting/interim president. Miller is set to retire at the end of June next year.

Murray was most recently the president of Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash., where she worked for seven years, retiring in 2022.

Prior to that, she served as provost, dean of the faculty and professor of music at Macalester College. 

In a press release, Hamline praised her work around budgets and fundraising.

“In her time at Whitman, she guided the college through the COVID-19 pandemic; implemented a campus-wide financial sustainability review in 2020 that allowed the college to develop and implement a sustainable budget coming out of COVID; guided a strategic planning process that informed fundraising priorities in the first phase of a comprehensive campaign which raised more than $100 million; and successfully raised over $10 million to build a new residence hall and dining commons,“ the release said.