April 23, 2008


Flunking the tenure test (Doug Schneider, April 23, 2008, Washington Times)

Earlier this month, the Collegiate Network awarded Iowa State University (ISU) a 2008 Campus Outrage Award for classroom bias. ISU received the fifth place for denying Professor Guillermo Gonzalez, Assistant Professor of Physics & Astronomy, tenure after he co-authored in 2004 the book, "The Privileged Planet," which suggests Intelligent Design might be responsible for life on Earth. Although he never taught Intelligent Design in class, when Dr. Gonzalez applied for tenure in 2007, he was denied.

It is inexplicable that Mr. Gonzalez was denied tenure. He has had nearly 70 peer-reviewed articles published and has co-authored a major college-level astronomy textbook, which was well beyond the standard and tenure requirements of the Physics & Astronomy department at ISU. Interestingly enough, while his colleagues questioned Mr. Gonzalez's view on Intelligent Design — a bias clearly revealed through faculty e-mail exchanges released to the public — they heartily approved of another ISU professor, Hector Alvalos, who drew parallels between "Mein Kampf" and the Bible.

If tenure is based on academic success through researching and teaching at ISU, which Mr. Gonzalez clearly accomplished, then what more would ISU liked to have seen of Mr. Gonzalez? In 2007, the year Gonzalez was denied tenure, 91 percent of tenure applications were approved, Professor Alvalos being one of them.

Unfortunately, seems a close adherence to the narrow ideology of the university, as opposed to actual academic accomplishments, are a better route for tenure at ISU.

No faith, especially not a dying one, ought be expected to tolerate heretics. If Darwinism loses its academic monopoly it won't even be able to muster its current 13% in the polls.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 23, 2008 8:11 PM

The corruption of education was an outgrowth of the days of shame, the Vietnam era, when cowardice became the handmaiden of treason.

We have in no way gotten over the great national nightmare. The effrontery of bragging that one would have left Saddam Hussein in power to slaughter children with poison gas and to feed his personal victims into log chippers is an outgrowth of this infamy.

Posted by: Lou Gots at April 24, 2008 3:52 AM

I don't expect most faculty members to admit as much, but the decision often involves consideration of whether or not they want to see the person being evaluated over the next 10-20 years.

It's possible that the guy was turned down not because of his politics (and certainly not because of his publishing record), but because he was a real jerk. I don't know one way or the other, and you'll never get any academic to admit that these decisions are about anything other than merit...

Posted by: Kevin Whited at April 24, 2008 12:41 PM

I've looked at his publication list (go to http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abstract_service.html and input his name) and it's laughable that Iowa State University would reject someone with such a publication record. They're a distinctly 2nd-class institution, and can't claim he's below their standards. He should sue (I hate to say it, but claim racial discrimination), and he'd be sure to win.

Considering that getting tenure is basically equivalent to a winning lottery ticket, I don't feel that anyone is entitled to it (in fact, it should be abolished for at least 99% of cases), but the fact that "collegiality" is often used as an excuse for denial masks all sorts of bigotry, even today.

Posted by: b at April 24, 2008 12:54 PM

If that's really why he was denied tenure that would be unfair. But as Kevin notes, there might be more going on here.

Posted by: PapayaSF at April 24, 2008 9:55 PM