More on Gonzalez tenure denial

The Des Moines Register has an article about emails received under the freedom of information act.

Intelligent design theory influenced ISU tenure vote by Lisa Rossi, December 1, 2007, The Des Moines Register

Iowa State University professor Guillermo Gonzalez’s support of the theory of intelligent design damaged his prospects for tenure long before his peers voted on the job promotion, according to e-mails from at least one professor in his department to those who decided Gonzalez’s tenure request.

Why is there a discrepancy between the public statement by the University and the private positions of some of the reviewers?

John McCarroll, ISU executive director of university relations, said he did not know the individual feelings of voting faculty members until the e-mails surfaced as a part of a public-records request filed by the Discovery Institute, an advocate on behalf of Gonzalez.

In response to a question about why the influence of intelligent design in the physics and astronomy tenure decisions was not acknowledged publicly by the university earlier, McCarroll said, “I can’t speak for every one of those individuals” who voted on Gonzalez’s tenure.

In other words, some on the tenure review committee may indeed have some negative opinions on Intelligent Design and Gonzalez’s involvement.

Harmon replied

He added later that 80 percent to 90 percent of the discussion on whether to grant Gonzalez tenure was based on his astronomy, but “it’s impossible to have this big elephant in the room without a burp occasionally, so it may have surfaced, but I don’t think it was that strong,” Harmon said.

Some researchers were concerned about Gonzalez’s involvement with a scientifically vacuous concept

Curtis Struck, a physics and astronomy professor, wrote an e-mail to Lee Anne Willson, another physics and astronomy professor, in February 2004 noting that Gonzalez was about to publish a book on intelligent design.

“I guess I’m rather sad that he wants to be so very public about something that I see as intellectually vacuous, though it may be spiritually satisfying,” Struck wrote. “I think I will talk to him about it at some point.”

In a Press Release the Discovery Institute announced that

Iowa State University (ISU) employees engaged in conspiracy and deceit to improperly deny tenure to a distinguished astronomer who supports the theory of intelligent design, according to thousands of pages of incriminating internal documents obtained under the Iowa Records Act by Discovery Institute.

My head is spinning

It would be interesting in pursuing access to the full text of emails.

For instance the following claim by the Discovery Institute

The Cover-Up: Department Chair Eli Rosenberg’s Effort to Mislead the Public

After Dr. Gonzalez’s denial of tenure, Dr. Eli Rosenberg, chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, publicly insisted that “intelligent design wasnot a major or even a big factor in this decision.” 25 The record clearly shows otherwise, especially when it comes to Dr. Rosenberg himself.

Contrary to his later public statements, during the tenure process Dr. Rosenberg presented Dr. Gonzalez’s beliefs about intelligent design as a clear-cut litmus test on whether he was qualified to be a science educator, stating:

o “on numerous occasions, Dr. Gonzalez has stated that Intelligent Design is a scientific theory and someday would be taught in science classrooms. This is confirmed by his numerous postings on the Discovery Institute Web site. The problem here is that Intelligent Design is not a scientific theory. Its premise is beyond the realm of science. … But it is incumbent on a science educator to clearly understand and be able to articulate what science is and what it is not. The fact that Dr. Gonzalez does not understand what constitutes both science and a scientific theory disqualifies him from serving as a science educator.”26

  1. Eli Rosenberg’s Chair’s Statement in Guillermo Gonzalez tenure dossier, page 29 of 33.

As far as I can tell this hardly undermines Rosenberg’s statement that “intelligent design wasnot a major or even a big factor in this decision.” “, especially if Gonzalez was pursuing the research track.