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Professor who backs intelligent design loses tenure appeal

By The Associated Press
02.09.08

Editor’s note: The Associated Press reported April 20 that Guillermo Gonzalez had accepted a new position at Grove City College in Pennsylvania. Gonzalez will continue to work in Iowa State’s physics and astronomy department until the end of the semester. He is scheduled to begin his new post as an associate professor at Grove City on Aug. 1.

AMES, Iowa — The Iowa Board of Regents this week rejected the appeal of an Iowa State University professor who claimed he was denied tenure because he supports the theory of intelligent design.

Guillermo Gonzalez, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy, first appealed the university’s decision to deny him tenure last spring, a decision that was upheld by Iowa State President Greg Geoffroy.

Gonzalez claims he met the criteria for promotion but that his reputation and research were tainted by a petition circulated on campus denouncing intelligent design in science. The theory holds that the universe and living things are so finely tuned and complex, they must have been designed by a supreme, intelligent force.

Geoffroy insisted his decision to deny tenure to Gonzalez was based on the professor’s research, teaching and service and not intelligent design.

The regents on Feb. 7 voted 7-1 to uphold Geoffroy’s decision.

Gonzalez wasn’t allowed to give oral arguments but was present for the vote. He said the vote may have been different had he been allowed to speak and if the regents had considered e-mails obtained through an open-records request by the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based think tank leading the intelligent-design movement.

Institute representatives characterized the e-mails from professors and administrators at Iowa State who reviewed and voted on Gonzalez’s tenure as proof that the university violated his academic freedom and denied him a fair tenure process.

“I don’t see how they come to reach an informed decision without all of the relevant facts,” Gonzalez said Feb. 7.

He said the vote was a “major blow to academic freedom.”

“If academic freedom doesn’t defend the professor with minority viewpoints, what good is it?” Gonzalez asked.

The vote was the last avenue of appeal for Gonzalez within the structure of Iowa State. He said he had not decided whether to pursue the case in court.


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