Re: [asa] Muggings and the tenure process

From: PvM <>
Date: Tue May 15 2007 - 12:28:11 EDT

On 5/15/07, David Opderbeck <> wrote:
> Rich said: David, perhaps you can shed some light on this but it appears
> from my lay eye that a pretty solid civil rights lawsuit could result.
> One of the odd things about this situation to my eye is that the university
> must have known this decision would provoke a firestorm, including a
> possible lawsuit. It seems that it would have been easier to just grant
> tenure, even if his record put him "on the bubble." (I'm not suggesting his
> record did put him on the bubble -- it seems to me that his record solidly
> supported tenure, but I agree that it's wise to suspend judgment a bit on
> that until the facts are fully known).

<quote>Gonzalez is not the first ISU professor to be turned down for
tenure, which essentially gives a faculty member a lifetime job at the

About 12 people have applied for tenure in the past 10 years in the
physics and astronomy department, and four of those were denied, said
Eli Rosenberg, the chairman of the ISU department of physics and

4 out of 12 denied tenure in his own department in the last 10 years.

What do we know of his record? How much external funding? How many
graduate students? How many classes? Other than his (inflated by some)
publication record, there is little information.

> Given the certainty that this decision would provoke a major public
> reaction, my sense is that there must have been some intense internal
> opposition in order for the university to place itself into the center of
> this mess, not merely the bland "consensus" reflected in the University's
> press statement (which statement, BTW, is obviously a useless bit of public
> relations and defensive legal fluff, whatever the ultimate merits of the
> case). And, my sense is that the only apparent reasons for such intense
> opposition is Gonzales' public affiliation with the ID movement. But, this

How many of the people in his department signed the petition?

> is only my spidey sense, based on having seen this kind of thing in
> employment cases before, and knowing from that experience that you often
> have to dig hard in such cases to uncover the truth. I could be wrong;
> maybe he was a difficult person as a colleague or a rotten teacher or
> something along those lines (though I haven't heard any such scuttlebut), or
> maybe his paper record looks more impressive than it is -- maybe writing a
> trade press book about ID was an error of judgment pre-tenure that took away
> from funded research or something. But all those excuses at this point seem
> like a hard sell given the blatant and open persecution that he faced from
> colleagues.

Oh my... Opposing intelligent design as science is now open and
blatant persecution?

> Whether a lawsuit is viable procedurally, I don't know. Religion is a
> protected class under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Tenure procedures,
> however, can have strange legal status, particularly in a public university,
> because they are a matter of overlapping legal regimes -- general employment
> law, education law, civil rights law, contract law, and labor law (most
> public university faculty are unionized). You can't deny tenure to a
> science professor because he's religious, but you probably could deny tenure
> to a science prof. who teaches religion instead of science on school time.
> My guess is that he would first have to exhaust other avenues of appeal,
> such as a union grievance before a state public employee board.

Iowa State University's handbook lays out much of the options Gonzalez
has. In addition I believe he can apply for a non-tenured position, a
recent change in procedures I believe.

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Received on Tue May 15 12:28:45 2007

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