The Iowa Board of Regents has denied the tenure appeal of an Iowa State University professor whose case has attracted the attention of Christian conservatives nationwide. The board confirmed the decision by I.S.U. administrators who denied tenure to Guillermo Gonzalez, a physics professor who authored a book on intelligent design, an alternative to the theory of evolution.
The Board of Regents voted seven-to-one this morning to deny the appeal. Regents President David Miles says it is not the Regents’ job to rule on the merits of a tenure case. "What we determine is whether or not the university fairly, reasonably made a decision and followed their own policies and procedures and made sure that they observed the rights of the individual involved," Miles says. "We didn’t find any reason to overturn their decision."
Craig Lang was the only member of the Board of Regents who voted against upholding Iowa State’s decision to deny Gonzales tenure. "I think the thoroughness of his report on each part of the decisions of why he was not granted tenure, he went to great extent and great length…I felt like that, to me, was more compelling than the decision of the university," Lang says.
Miles — the board’s president — says in his view, Iowa State administrators acted appropriately. "We don’t go in and say, ‘If we were sitting there, we would have given this individual tenure. That’s not our decision to make," Miles says. "Our decision is: did the institution do its job appropriately."
Gonzalez maintains that his views on intelligent design doomed his tenure case, even though he did not teach the theory in the classroom. Gonzalez charges academic freedom has been suppressed and Gonzalez was upset he was not allowed to present certain documents to the board as they considered his case. "I don’t see how they can reach an informed decision without all the relevant facts and all the relevant facts were not allowed in the case especially the e-mails and other documents that are highly relevant to this case," he says.
Today’s decision isn’t likely the final chapter in this story, however, as Chuck Hurley of the Iowa Family Policy Center says conservatives stand ready to finance a bid to get the courts to rule that Gonzalez was unfairly denied tenure at I.S.U. "I will assist him to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary and we have generous donors willing to do that," Hurley says. "There’s a lot at stake here."
Professor Gonzales. who was born in Cuba in 1963, was denied tenure at I.S.U. in April of last year. The book Gonzales co-authored is titled "The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery."