Proponent of intelligent design denied tenure by ISU

Proponent of intelligent design denied tenure by ISU
Discovery Institute to handle appeal
By: William Dillon - The Ames Tribune - 05/12/2007 - original
Guillermo Gonzalez, an assistant professor of astronomy and physics who argues for the theory of intelligent design, was denied tenure this semester by Iowa State University.

"I was surprised to hear that my tenure was denied at any level, but I was disappointed that the president at the end denied me," Gonzalez said during a telephone interview with The Tribune Friday.

Gonzalez filed an appeal with ISU President Greg Geoffroy on Tuesday, May 8. Geoffroy has 20 days to respond.

While his work is heralded as "path-breaking" by supporters of intelligent design as a way of offering a new theory supporting design in the universe, Gonzalez has come under criticism by the mainstream science community for incorporating the theory of intelligent design into his work.

Opponents maintain that proving intelligent causes or agents is not science but rather the study of theology and philosophy. Some also have accused Gonzalez, an openly non-denominational Protestant, of thrusting religion into science.

In the summer of 2005, three faculty members at ISU drafted a statement against the use of intelligent design in science. One of those authors, Hector Avalos, told The Tribune at the time he was concerned the growing prominence of Gonzalez's work was beginning to market ISU as an "intelligent design school."

The statement collected signatures of support from more than 120 ISU faculty members before similar statements surfaced at the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa.

According to ISU's policy on promotion and tenure, evaluation is based "primarily on evidence of scholarship in the faculty member's teaching, research/creative activities, and/or extension/professional practice."

In addition to that criteria, Gonzalez's department of astronomy and physics sets a benchmark for tenure candidates to author at least 15 peer-reviewed journal articles of quality. Gonzalez said he submitted 68, of which 25 have been written since he arrived at ISU in 2001.

"I believe that I fully met the requirements for tenure at ISU," he said.

Gonzalez said he would rather not comment on why he believes he was denied tenure.

On Friday, Geoffroy declined comment on why Gonzalez was denied tenure.

"Since an appeal is on my desk that I will have to pass judgment on, it is not appropriate for me to offer any comment," he wrote in an e-mail to The Tribune.

In addition to his research and teaching at ISU, Gonzalez is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, a conservative Seattle think tank leading the intelligent design movement.

John G. West, associate director of the Center for Science and Culture at the institute, said he sees this as a clear case of "ideological discrimination" by ISU against Gonzalez. He said he thinks the statement against intelligent design drafted at ISU played a large part in the eventual denial of Gonzalez's tenure.

"What happens to the lone faculty member who doesn't agree and happens to be untenured," he asked. "That is practically, with a wink and a nod, a call to deny him tenure."

Faculty members typically leave a university if they are denied tenure.

ISU considered 66 faculty cases for promotion and tenure during the past academic year. Only three, including Gonzalez, were denied tenure.

William Dillon can be reached at 232-2161, Ext. 361, or