Tuesday's Sun features the story of Kent Gramm, who is losing his job as a college English professor after 20 years because he refuses to tell his employer personal details about his divorce. Of course, when your employer is Wheaton College, you know when you sign up that you've got to stick to the moral high road. What do you think of Gramm's decision to resign rather than explain why his 30-year marriage ended?
Here's the story:
He got a divorce, now he's jobless
Wheaton College professor refuses to discuss split
By Mary Houlihan Chicago Sun-Times
After 30 years of marriage and 20 years of teaching, Kent Gramm is getting divorced and losing his job at the same time.
But Gramm is not surprised. He knew when divorce proceedings started that unemployment was a possibility.
Gramm, a professor of English at Wheaton College, and his wife are in the midst of a split, and because he refuses to discuss the cause of the divorce with college officials - school policy requires the divorce be within acceptable parameters - he is resigning.
Otherwise, the college would have fired him.
"I feel a lot of sadness," Gramm said from his office on the Wheaton campus.
"However, I'm mentally prepared, because I was aware of the school's policy."
Teachers, students and employees of Wheaton, an evangelical Christian school, commit to live their lives according to a Statement of Faith and Community Covenant that spells out suitable behavior.
"You sign the statement when you accept employment at the college," said Sarah Clark, director of media relations. "Everyone knows it's part of the deal."
Wheaton is known as a conservative college where smoking, drinking and gambling are not allowed. Dancing became acceptable only four years ago, breaking a ban that had been in place since the Civil War.
Wheaton's policy acknowledges divorce can occur in a Christian marriage, and it does not consider divorce an "unpardonable sin." But college officials reserve the right to review the cause of a divorce, something that Gramm refused to discuss.
"I think it's wrong to have to accuse your spouse and to discuss with your employer your personal life and marital situation," Gramm said. "But I don't feel badly treated. There has been an attitude of compassion here."
Clark says a situation like this - a mutually agreed upon separation - is not a common occurrence at Wheaton and is always a very difficult conversation for those involved.
"We are a place of higher education, and that is certainly central to our mission," Clark said. "But we are also a faith-based community. So we tell all of our employees, whether it's a janitor or a dean, that it's about more than teaching. It's about being an example for our students in the entire scope of our lives."
Gramm will finish out the semester and then head west for the summer to research his next book. He has talked to his students about his reasons for resigning and hopes he leaves them with one last lesson.
"I want them to know that divorce happens," Gramm said. "That you aren't deserted by God because your life doesn't turn out the way you expect. I hope this helps them acquire a broader understanding of what Christianity is and what faithfulness means."