Backers battle ISU professor's tenure denial
Backers battle ISU professor's tenure denial
By LISA ROSSI Des Moines Register Ames Bureau Nov 28, 2007 - original
Ames, Ia. ? The fight will rage on over Iowa State University astronomy professor Guillermo Gonzalez, who advocated for intelligent design, the theory that disputes parts of evolution, and lost a bid for tenure.

Advocates for Gonzalez said in a release distributed Tuesday that they will hold a news conference at 11 a.m. Monday in Des Moines. There, they said, they will discuss documents they contend will prove that Gonzalez "lost his job" because he supports intelligent design, not because he was deficient as a scholar. Gonzalez's backers say an appeal to the Iowa Board of Regents and possibly a lawsuit would be the next steps.

Gonzalez is currently employed as an ISU assistant professor in physics and astronomy. He was denied tenure, essentially a lifetime appointment at the university, in May 2007.

ISU spokesman John McCarroll said in an e-mail that Gonzalez did not receive tenure because "he failed to meet the expectations for scholarly achievement for a faculty member in the department of physics and astronomy during the six years of his probationary, pre-tenure period of appointment."

ISU President Gregory Geoffroy said in June that Gonzalez's advocacy of the "intelligent design" concept was not a factor in the decision to turn down his request for tenure.

Geoffroy said he focused his review on Gonzalez's overall record of scientific accomplishment as an assistant professor at ISU.

He also said he considered peer review publications, Gonzalez's level of success in attracting research funding and grants, the amount of telescope observing time he had been granted, the number of graduate students he had supervised and the overall evidence of his future career promise in the field of astronomy.

The news conference scheduled for Monday at the Capitol will include attorneys for Gonzalez, representatives of the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based organization that supports discussions of intelligent design in science classes, and one or more state legislators, staff of the Discovery Institute said.

"The main concern is one of academic freedom," said Iowa Sen. David Hartsuch, a Republican from Bettendorf who said he plans to attend the news conference.

He said he thought Gonzalez was denied tenure because of his work involving intelligent design.

"We're living in a day and age where there is nothing that is not politicized," he added.

Reid said the Gonzalez case could turn into litigation in district court if all administrative options have been exhausted, which include appealing the tenure case to the Iowa Board of Regents in February.