Iowa State University regents, who earlier ruled against accepting evidence or hearing testimony from a professor in a dispute over the school’s denial of his tenure, now have turned down his appeal.
The case involves Guillermo Gonzalez, an honored assistant professor of astronomy who has been actively working on theories of intelligent design, an effort that ultimately cost him his job, supporters say. Tenure is roughly the equivalent of a lifetime appointment.
The school has continued to deny the handling of Gonzalez’ case was related to his support of ID, even though the Des Moines Register documented e-mails that confirmed Gonzalez’ colleagues wanted him flushed out of the system for that reason.
“I think Gonzalez should know that some of the faculty in his department are not going to count his ID work as a plus for tenure,” said one note, from astronomy teacher Bruce Harmon, before the department voted against tenure for Gonzalez. “Quite the opposite.”
The newspaper reported what was revealed in e-mails was “contrary” to what ISU officials said when they rejected Gonzalez’ request for tenure.
And Eli Rosenberg, chairman of the ISU astronomy department, also confirmed to World Magazine Gonzalez’s book, “The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery,” played a role in his being rejected.
Now the regents, at a meeting Thursday, voted against his appeal in the case.
“The board of regents would not allow into the record extensive e-mail documentation showing Dr. Gonzalez was denied tenure not due to his academic record, but because he supports intelligent design,” said Casey Luskin, program officer in public policy and legal affairs for the Discovery Institute, where Gonzalez is a senior fellow.
“Then the board refused Dr. Gonzalez the right to be heard through oral arguments. Does it come as any surprise that now they denied his appeal?” Luskin asked.
“We are extremely disappointed that the board of regents refused to give Dr. Gonzalez a fair hearing in his appeal,” said Chuck Hurley, the professor’s lawyer. “They say in Iowa that academic freedom is supposed to be the ‘foundation of the university.’ That foundation is cracked.”
“They’ve denied his due process rights throughout this entire appeal,” said Luskin. “This kangaroo court decided its verdict long before today’s deliberations even began.”
Hurley said the most “disheartening” part of the appeal was that regents refused Gonzalez the opportunity present his case to the board.
“The board of regents had an opportunity to give justice to an outstanding scientist who is a leader in his field,” continued Luskin. “Instead, they caved in to political pressure and threw academic freedom to the wind.”
According to the Intelligent Design website, the theory confirms that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not a random, undirected force such as natural selection, which is part of the foundational faith of evolutionists.
Luskin told WND the 7-1 vote against Gonzalez showed there only a single member of the board who was willing to buck the political pressure from the university to “rubber-stamp” the rejection of Gonzalez.
A website highlighting an academic freedom petition in support from the freedom of thought needed by faculty, teachers and students also has been created.
The Discovery Institute said it also had reviewed the e-mail record regarding Gonzalez’ teaching, and found “an orchestrated campaign conducted against Dr. Gonzalez by his colleagues, with the intent to deny him tenure because of views he holds on the intelligent design of the universe.”
As WND reported earlier, Gonzales was one of three members of the ISU faculty denied promotion or tenure of the 66 considered at the time.
The rejection followed earlier opposition to his work because of his acknowledgment of intelligent design. In 2005, three ISU faculty members drafted a statement and petition against intelligent design in the science curriculum that collected 120 signatures.
“We … urge all faculty members to uphold the integrity of our university of ‘science and technology,’ convey to students and the general public the importance of methodological naturalism in science, and reject efforts to portray intelligent design as science,” the statement said.
Officials with Evolution News, which has reported extensively on the case, earlier said two of the professors linked to the statement were in the astronomy and physics department: Prof. Steven Kawaler, who has linked to the statement on his website, and University Professor Lee Anne Willson, who is married to ISU math professor Stephen J. Wilson, who signed it.
Evolution News also debunked Rosenberg’s claim that there was something deficient about Gonzalez’s research record.
“You take a look at somebody’s research record over the six-year probationary period and you get a sense whether this is a strong case. Clearly, this was a case that looked like it might be in trouble,” Rosenberg had said.
“Really?” questioned Evolution News in its commentary. “Was Gonzalez somehow derelict in publishing 350 percent more peer-reviewed publications than his own department’s stated standard for research excellence? Or in co-authoring a college astronomy textbook with Cambridge University Press? Or in having his research recognized by Science, Nature, Scientific American and other top science publications?”
In 2004 Gonzalez department nominated him for an “Early Achievement in Research” honor, his supporters noted.
According to Robert J. Marks, distinguished professor of electrical and computer engineering at Baylor, he checked a citation index of journal papers, and found one of Gonzalez’ research papers had 153 citations listed; another had 139.
“I have sat on oodles of tenure committees at both a large private university and a state research university, chaired the university tenure committee, and have seen more tenure cases than the Pope has Cardinals,” he said. “This is a LOT of citations for an assistant professor up for tenure.”
Gonzalez’ appeal to ISU President Greg Geoffroy also was unsuccessful.
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