Advocate of Intelligent Design Loses Appeal in Tenure Fight

June 03, 2007

Iowa State University’s president, Gregory L. Geoffroy, has denied a tenure appeal from Guillermo Gonzalez, an assistant professor of astronomy. Mr. Gonzalez’s tenure case has generated controversy because of his performance and his personal beliefs: He had a strong publishing record when first hired, and he has been an outspoken advocate of intelligent design. He has published a book on the concept, which holds that some form of intelligence has helped shape the universe and life within it.

However, Mr. Gonzalez’s publication record has dropped off considerably since he was hired at Iowa State. In a written statement, Mr. Geoffroy referred to that record as part of his reason for denying the tenure appeal. “I independently concluded that [Mr. Gonzalez] 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,” Mr. Geoffroy wrote.

He said that he could not provide details about the rationale for the decision because the case is a personnel matter, but added that he had considered Mr. Gonzalez’s “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.”

Mr. Geoffroy said that the university held high standards for granting tenure, and that four out of 12 candidates in physics and astronomy had been denied tenure in the past 10 years. He also touted his experience as a scientist — he is a chemist — and said that he has reviewed close to 1,000 tenure and promotion cases in the past two decades. —Scott Carlson