From: PvM <>
Date: Sat Jun 02 2007 - 13:50:42 EDT

Statement from Iowa State University President Gregory Geoffroy

On Friday, June 1, I informed Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez, assistant
professor of physics and astronomy, of my decision to deny his tenure

As part of this decision process, I appointed a member of my staff to
conduct a careful and exhaustive review of the appeal request and the
full tenure dossier, and that analysis was presented to me. In
addition, I conducted my own examination of Dr. Gonzalez's appeal with
respect to the evidence of research and scholarship. I independently
concluded that he simply did not show the trajectory of excellence
that we expect in a candidate seeking tenure in physics and astronomy
-- one of our strongest academic programs.

Because the issue of tenure is a personnel matter, I am not able to
share the detailed rationale for the decision, although that has been
provided to Dr. Gonzalez. But I can outline the areas of focus of my
review where I gave special attention to his overall record of
scientific accomplishment while an assistant professor at Iowa State,
since that gives the best indication of future achievement. I
specifically considered refereed publications, his level of success in
attracting research funding and grants, the amount of telescope
observing time he had been granted, the number of graduate students he
had supervised, and most importantly, the overall evidence of future
career promise in the field of astronomy.

I know extremely well how to assess the qualifications of a candidate
seeking tenure. Over the past two decades -- as dean of Penn State's
College of Science, provost at the University of Maryland and as
president of Iowa State -- I have reviewed and passed judgment on
close to 1,000 faculty promotion and tenure cases. And while I have
not worked in Dr. Gonzalez's field of astronomy, I have a significant
understanding of the field and far greater experience than most
university presidents. At Penn State, I worked closely with the
astronomy faculty in advancing the department, and I reviewed many
promotion and tenure dossiers in astronomy. I have also had more than
a decade of service on national astronomy boards and committees, where
I advised and led groups building telescopes, oversaw personnel
appointments in astronomy and astrophysics, and frequently attended
research presentations on the current and future directions of
astronomy and astrophysics.

The tenure review process at a university like Iowa State must be
handled with great care, because granting tenure guarantees a lifetime
appointment to the faculty member who receives it. That's why the
standards for tenure are very high. Before tenure is awarded, the
university must be extremely confident that the faculty member will
continue to achieve at a high level of excellence and with significant
impact in his/her research specialty. In conducting that evaluation,
we carefully examine the candidate's record of accomplishment, with a
primary focus on what the candidate has accomplished during his/her
appointment as an independent faculty member at Iowa State, since that
gives the best indication of the candidate's future success. Over the
past 10 years, four of the 12 candidates who came up for review in the
physics and astronomy department were not granted tenure.

Denying tenure is never an easy thing to do. But for the sake of our
students and the university, we must get it right. Recruiting and
retaining outstanding faculty who are leaders in their fields is the
most important way that Iowa State can improve the rigor and
reputation of our academic programs and can increase the number of
research programs that are among the very best.

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Received on Sat Jun 2 13:51:22 2007

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