John G. West Political Scientist and Cultural Critic

Astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez Appeals Tenure Denial to Iowa Board of Regents

Published at Evolution News

Pro-intelligent design astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez is appealing his denial of tenure at Iowa State University to the Iowa State Board of Regents. Dr. Gonzalez’s first appeal was rejected by ISU President Gregory Geoffroy on May 31. On June 19, Gonzalez filed notice with the ISU President’s office that he would make a further appeal to the Board of Regents. Gonzalez’s current appeal will play out over the next couple of months as the record in the case is forwarded by the university to the Board of Regents and both Gonzalez and the university file their written arguments in the case. If Gonzalez’s denial of tenure is not overturned, he will be out of a job at the end of the 2007-08 academic year.

An outstanding scientist and scholar, Gonzalez has had his scientific work featured in Science, Nature, and on the cover of Scientific American. He is co-author of a major college astronomy textbook published last year by Cambridge University Press. But he has been viciously attacked by Darwinists and various atheists for co-authoring with Jay Richards The Privileged Planet, which makes a scientific argument for the intelligent design of the universe based on the empirical evidence from physics and astronomy. It should be noted Gonzalez’s book does not discuss the evidence for design in biology, and thus it does not deal with Darwin’s theory of evolution. That hasn’t spared Gonzalez from persecution.

Gonzalez was denied tenure despite the fact that he has published 68 peer-reviewed scientific articles, exceeding by 350% his own department’s stated standard for demonstrating the research “excellence” needed for tenure. Moreover, Gonzalez’s articles published since 2001 (the year he arrived at ISU) have the highest normalized citation count among all of the astronomers in his department according to the authoritative NASA/Smithsonian Astrophysics Data System. Gonzalez also has the second highest normalized number of publications among all the astronomers in his department.

Incredibly, ISU’s President Geoffroy denied tenure to Gonzalez while approving 91% of those applying for tenure this year. Geoffroy also promoted to full professor one of Gonzalez’s chief persecutors at ISU, atheist religion professor Hector Avaloz, who believes that the Bible is worse than Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Geoffroy, it seems, has a very perverse view of academic freedom.

The Gonzalez affair is one of the most outrageous examples of academic discrimination and abuse targeting scholars who are supportive of intelligent design. ISU’s spin-machine has tried to create the impression that the denial of tenure to Gonzalez isn’t about intelligent design, but the day after ISU’s president announced his rejection of Gonzalez’s first appeal, a member of ISU’s Department of Physics and Astronomy published an article in the Des Moines Register openly admitting that Gonzalez’s support for intelligent design was the only reason he voted against tenure for Gonzalez. Two other members of the department have acknowledged that Gonzalez’s intelligent design views played a role in their deliberations, and still other members of the department have been tied to national statements condemning intelligent design. In short, the claim that ID had nothing to do with Gonzalez’s tenure denial at ISU is preposterous. This is a clear case of discrimination against an outstanding scientist based on his support of intelligent design. Let’s hope that members of the Iowa State Board of Regents are more supportive of academic freedom than the faculty and administrators at ISU.

While Gonzalez continues his tenure appeal, Discovery Institute has filed multiple public records requests with ISU in order document in detail what actually happened to Gonzalez. You can expect a significant amount of additional information to come out about the Gonzalez case in coming weeks and months.

John G. West

Senior Fellow, Managing Director, and Vice President of Discovery Institute
Dr. John G. West is Vice President of the Seattle-based Discovery Institute and Managing Director of the Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. Formerly the Chair of the Department of Political Science and Geography at Seattle Pacific University, West is an award-winning author and documentary filmmaker who has written or edited 12 books, including Darwin Day in America: How Our Politics and Culture Have Been Dehumanized in the Name of Science, The Magician’s Twin: C. S. Lewis on Science, Scientism, and Society, and Walt Disney and Live Action: The Disney Studio’s Live-Action Features of the 1950s and 60s. His documentary films include Fire-Maker, Revolutionary, The War on Humans, and (most recently) Human Zoos. West holds a PhD in Government from Claremont Graduate University, and he has been interviewed by media outlets such as CNN, Fox News, Reuters, Time magazine, The New York Times, USA Today, and The Washington Post.
Discovery Institute