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Guillermo Gonzalez — the latest

Backers battle ISU professor’s tenure denial
By LISA ROSSI • REGISTER AMES BUREAU • November 28, 2007

Ames, Ia. — The fight will rage on over Iowa State University astronomy professor Guillermo Gonzalez, who advocated for intelligent design, the theory that disputes parts of evolution, and lost a bid for tenure.

Advocates for Gonzalez said in a release distributed Tuesday that they will hold a news conference at 11 a.m. Monday in Des Moines. There, they said, they will discuss documents they contend will prove that Gonzalez “lost his job” because he supports intelligent design, not because he was deficient as a scholar. Gonzalez’s backers say an appeal to the Iowa Board of Regents and possibly a lawsuit would be the next steps.

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54 Responses to Guillermo Gonzalez — the latest

  1. ISU spokesman John McCarroll said in an e-mail that Gonzalez did not receive tenure because “he failed to meet the expectations for scholarly achievement for a faculty member in the department of physics and astronomy during the six years of his probationary, pre-tenure period of appointment.”

    ISU President Gregory Geoffroy said in June that Gonzalez’s advocacy of the “intelligent design” concept was not a factor in the decision to turn down his request for tenure.

    Geoffroy said he focused his review on Gonzalez’s overall record of scientific accomplishment as an assistant professor at ISU.

    He also said he considered peer review publications, Gonzalez’s 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 the overall evidence of his future career promise in the field of astronomy.

    It will be interesting to see if they support those claims.

    And even though there may be a point to be made in this case perhaps Gonzalez should just say bye-bye to Iowa State and find refuge at a university that promotes open discussions about the scientific data, evidence and observations.

    ISU doesn’t strike me as a “hot-bed” for scientific endeavors…

  2. ISU doesn’t strike me as a “hot-bed” for scientific endeavors

    Well that is exactly it. They want to improve their reputation and don’t want to be associated with ID, kind of like Baylor.

  3. just be careful you don’t jump the gun on this one. A few months back, we blogged on this, and a real debate came about that GG did not bring in hardly any money.

    Many people said “thats not important”. Well, it is. Its very important to a research university. Most everyone in academia knows that indirect costs are critical to running a university, and a critical part of a professor’s job.

    I certainly hope its not true (that GG did not bring in much research), but if it is, I don’t want to see ID people getting egg on their face on this one.

  4. But as joseph said, ISU is no astronomically good cosmology school (sorry for the pun, but it was easy), so I don’t think G should sweat this one. There are plenty of other universities that will allow him to speak his mind. Maybe he should just play the Darwinist’s game until he gets tenure there. Then it will be too late to take any action against him, even if they could.

  5. ajl sez:

    Most everyone in academia knows that indirect costs are critical to running a university, and a critical part of a professor’s job.

    YES! Scholarship is old hat.

    Now we have SUPPLY SIDE ACADEMICS!

    Get modern.

    Gloppy

  6. Off topic:

    Another “surprise” for materialists/evolutionists

    ‘Intelligence genes’ proving hard to find: study

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20.....1128185555

  7. Gloppy,

    I don’t think that research dollars and scholarship are mutually exclusive. I’m only writing this because I sense that people are going to defend GG without knowing all the facts.

    I think it was wrong not to tenure GG. But, that being said, if he didn’t raise money, then he has left a gaping hole in his portfolio at a major research institution.

  8. ISU doesn’t strike me as a “hot-bed” for scientific endeavors

    Maybe. But the astronomy program is considered quite good. In 2000 the National Academies Press ranked it #30 among astronomy and astrophysics programs. It’s something even to be on that list, which only covers the top programs.

    I’m only pointing out that, since it is a top-flight program, it’s no shame to be denied tenure. Getting big grants seems to be a key.

  9. I doubt that he was a bad professor, or didn’t bring in any money. Here is what it says on the website I belived for the center of complexity. It states

    “Guillermo Gonzalez has also published over sixty articles in professional astronomy and astrophysical journals including Astronomy and Astrophysics, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Astrophysical Journal and Solar Physics. His current research interest in astrobiology focuses on the “Galactic Habitable Zone” which was the featured cover story in the October 2001 issue of Scientific American.”

    Being skeptical of things myself (even tho, I am in favor of ID) I looked into it for myself. Here is a link of it in the scientific american. I can’t tell by the picture of the magazine if it is about his article. However, check out the link.

    http://www.sciamdigital.com/in.....E6BC261B6C

    I hope this helps!

  10. btw, the link I posted shows the actual article (I am not sure if its just an abstract, or the whole thing). Hm, peer reviewed ID article? No wonder they want to get rid of him!

  11. Erm, gore — SciAm is not a peer reviewed article; it is a popular science magazine.

    And in response to other posters: arguably, the amount of money brought in is the *most* important factor in tenure decisions at research universities. Gonzalez really didn’t bring in any significant amount of money, and that would have counted strongly against him.

  12. Below is an excerpt from an article discussing GG’s research funding:

    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....ecked.html

    Rossi’s implication is that Professor Gonzalez was denied tenure because he didn’t receive enough grant money. Ironically, this is refuted by an op-ed the Des Moines Register printed by ISU physicist John Hauptman, who admitted that his vote against Gonzalez’s tenure was based solely on Gonzalez’s support for intelligent design. Moreover, Gonzalez actually received more grant money than many of those given tenure at ISU this year, and he has more peer-reviewed publications than nearly all of those approved for tenure. Clearly, it is incredible to believe that Gonzalez was objectively less qualified than the 91% of ISU faculty applying for tenure in 2007 who were approved.

  13. I’m sorry, but Casey Luskin isn’t qualified to evaluate Gonzales’ publication record. He’s a lawyer, not an astronomer. I, however, *am* an astronomer. While none of us will probably ever know what went on at ISU, let me offer some perspectives based on my *own* experience of the tenure process in astronomy departments at research universities.

    First, publications. If you count only papers in mainstream, peer-reviewed journals, then Gonzales’ publication count over the 5 years leading up to the tenure decision is on the order of 15-20. Of these, he is only the first author on a minority. This is a less-than-stellar (pardon the pun) record for someone who is up for tenure *in Astronomy* (Luskin’s comparison with other, non-Astronomy faculty at ISU who were up for tenure at the same time as Gonzalez is disingenuous, since norms vary from field to field).

    Moreover, the grant money brought in by Gonzalez was lacking, both in amount and sustainability. As a rule of thumb, to get tenure at a research university, not only must one land typically $500k or more on funding; but this funding should come from a mainstream source such as NASA, DOE, NSF, etc. The university needs to know that you’ve got the ability to land big grants from organizations that are in the habit of giving out big grants. One-off contributions from organizations like DI and the Templeton Foundation just won’t cut it.

    Things are rather different at liberal arts colleges, where the emphasis is more on teaching (and perhaps getting undergraduates involved in research). However, at a primarily research-based university, grant income is king. During a recent faculty hiring process at my own institution, it was stipulated that desirable candidates should be able to bring in c. $300k PER ANNUM. Compare that to Gonzales’ record, and it’s clear that he wasn’t even in the running.

  14. aardpig,

    Interesting details. And if it wasn’t for the aggressive moves against intelligent design, and apparently Professor Gonzalez personally as a result of his ID affiliation, I think concern about the event would be minimal.

    But, you say one thing, and other sources say something different. And considering the ‘sink ID at all costs attitudes’ some have thrown around (Are they sympathetic to ID? Flunk ‘em! Is the paper suggest of ID? Sink it!), I’ve got to say that all of the noise being made about this can only help straighten things out.

    Problems like this are unavoidable when there’s such strong ideaology in play. And really, I don’t just mean on the side of some ID proponents.

  15. One of the great things about the internet is anyone can be a professor of astronomy huh aardpig;)! Especially when it comes to lurking ID websites with something to prove! If you read the link provided by russ, he shows that Gonzalez had funding from NASA… As for how much money is expected to be received to keep tenure, I will ask actual professors of astronomy at NAU tomorrow. Ooh wait, am I still supposed to pretend to be the professor? Anyhow, I will post tomorrow with my findings!

  16. I’m not an astronomer, but I am a scientist in a research university, and I can confirm that aardpig’s description of the factors that matter in tenure decisions is accurate.

    gore: If GG had only $64,000 from the one major funder (NASA) on the list, and it was spread from 2001-2004 as stated in the link you cite, then that would be considered meager funding in ANY field. University jobs are hard to get, and there is fierce competition. In my department, someone with GG’s funding record would probably not survive tenure review because there are many more scientists coming up through the ranks who have better funding records. We would have needed an exceptional reason to grant GG tenure, rather than recruit someone else who can contribute more.

  17. “Galatic Habitable Zone” was also published in Icarus.

    But let’s consider 15-20 papers over 5 years-

    That is 3+ per year! Writing a paper takes research. Research takes time. Research in astronomy takes quite a bit of time due to the vast distances involved. (it takes time to detect movement in far-away bodies)

    The number of papers he was involved with seems to be OK- 1+ every 4 months. During that time he also was one of the authors of an astronomy textbook.

    I would say the number of papers bows to the quality of research papers.

    Now if universities want funding- ie grants- then perhaps they should have a full-time staff that does that and thereby letting the scientists do what scientists do- research.

    Professors/ scientists should:

    1- Teach students

    2- Drive original research

    3- Report on said research

    4- Get the students involved in the research

    as for his future career- well he did tell us where to look and what to look for to find habitable planets. To me that is huge! And if that doesn’t bring in the $$$ then I would say there is something else that is preventing that from happening.

  18. aardpig

    Surely if grant money is so important to job performance for professors in ISU’s astronomy department a minimum sum is written down somewhere in the tenure track performance guidelines. Otherwise how would a tenure track professor know if he’s on track or not in this regard? A minimum number of publications is given in those guidelines but unless everyone somehow missed it there is no mention of grant money. Gonzalez easily rose above the publication requirements. Indeed he surpassed his tenured and non-tenured peers in the ISU astronomy department in that regard. He published more than even the head of the astronomy department! While SciAm is not peer reviewed, per se, a cover story is an accomplishment that few astronomers in the world manage to get and one that no one else in ISU’s astronomy department can brag about. Since SciAm is an old and well respected popular science journal that can be seen prominently on every magazine rack in the western world this represents a tremendous positive advertisement for both Gonzalez personally and for the ISU astronomy department in general.

    The fact of the matter is that it is assumed, without being written down anywhere, that publication requires money to conduct the research which is being published. In other words the proof of the pudding is in the tasting not the expense of making it. That is why no minimum amount of grant funding is written in the tenure track guidelines. Indeed, if the record of published research is extraordinary with little cost that is considered a good thing. Better results at lower cost is something to be strived for not something to be shunned. Anyone with any financial sense at all should know that.

  19. Hello all,

    Go to http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abstract_service.html
    to do a litature seach on Guillermo Gonzalez. I found about 10 peer reviewed publications for Gonzalez since 2003. Furthermore, the topics were of a wide variety which is impressive in this age of over-specialization.

  20. Also, the 10 publications that I found were only the ones in which he was first author. I’m sure he is co-author in many more

  21. Hi Dave. Here are some perspectives:

    Surely if grant money is so important to job performance for professors in ISU’s astronomy department a minimum sum is written down somewhere in the tenure track performance guidelines.

    ya-think, huh? But, that is not how it works. Remember, academia is not Dell :-) In many ways, its stupid, but its the only process you’ve got. So no, you will not find in any University, anywhere benchmarks for tenure. Only vague ideas.

    I know you don’t like this answer, but it is the correct perspective at what happens at Universities. But, theres more…

    Otherwise how would a tenure track professor know if he’s on track or not in this regard?

    thats right. and, thats also reality in academia. Now, of course you also have tenure review. So, the other question is, what was said to GG during his review. Sometimes his committee would say “you are doing great with publications, but you really need to work on getting some grants in the next 3 years”. I’m not sure if that happened or not.

    He published more than even the head of the astronomy department!

    well, oftentimes heads of departments no longer publish as their administrative duties just become overwhelming.

    it is assumed, without being written down anywhere, that publication requires money to conduct the research which is being published.

    not really. There are two things here:

    1. for some fields, research does not require that much money. Think of your field in computing. If I am being paid to teach courses, perhaps I have enough money to live on now. At a research university you may only teach 1 course, so you have all this other free time (for which you are expected to do research). So, during that free time, me and my computer work to develop really cool algorithms, and I publish them. Thats not good. The University is paying me to only teach one course, and giving me a good salary to do that. The reason they are doing that is so that I have alot of free time to do research and generate income.

    2. the other issue is this: did GG make his money from Priviledged Planet? If so, that money went to GG, not to Iowa. The University, wants, needs, and DEMANDS indirect costs. That is why when you are at a research university you only teach 3-6 credits a semester, but when you are at a teaching university you teach 12 credits per semester. If you only teach 3 credits, then you better darn well generate a few hundred thousand dollars a year. And, if you are using that free time to create other materials where YOU are generating income for yourself but not the university, that wouldn’t be good. It would be like a Dell salesman building garagatronics PCs in his garage and selling them out of the back of his Dell supplied automobile. Dell would never stand for that. They expect the salesman to do something for them. When he gets fired he can’t say: yeah, but look at all the computers I built in my garage.

    Indeed, if the record of published research is extraordinary with little cost that is considered a good thing.

    Dave, Dave, Dave. You are thinking like a businessman, not an academic :-) At Dell, you are absolutely correct. If you could develop something cheap, then you are set. But, imagine that the product you develop generates no income at Dell. Dell would not want it.

    At a University, research generates income. Income pays for labs. Income pays for graduate stipends, administrator salaries, etc. Remember, GG probably had a low teaching load. So, he is expected to bring in money.

    Look at it this way: suppose you got a $100 grant. Well, about $50 would go to you, and $50 to the University. Of the $50 at the University, about $25 goes to your individual college (to pay salaries, but computers, fix buildings, scholarships, etc.). Of the $25, about $12 goes to the Department (to pay for the secretary, paint the offices, provide undergraduates with money, etc.).

    Now, if it is true that GG only generated around $64K (god, I hope its not true), then that is beyond awful. And, thats only because his job requirements are to bring in money.

  22. I don’t know what ajl’s background is, but I think that he is essentially correct. I saw that as a graduate student. Faculty are expected to bring in money. This is why I have chosen a different career path than attempting to gain tenure at a large research institution. There is a tremendous amount of pressure. Why do you think many institutions don’t want to be associated with ID (Baylor). There’s no money in it. Sad but true.

  23. “he failed to meet the expectations for scholarly achievement for a faculty member in the department of physics and astronomy during the six years of his probationary, pre-tenure period of appointment.”

    Are grants considered a “scholarly achievment”?

    Geoffroy said he focused his review on Gonzalez’s overall record of scientific accomplishment as an assistant professor at ISU.

    Are grants considered a “scientific accomplishment”?

    I doubt it because:

    He also said he considered peer review publications, Gonzalez’s 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 the overall evidence of his future career promise in the field of astronomy.

    It looks like grants are third on the list.

    And as I have already stated if finding habitable planets does not attract research grants then there is a problem with the institutions funding the grants.

  24. Don’t meet the standards of your department? They are, clearly, unreasonable. It’s not possible that you just failed.

  25. Bugsy,
    Have you been reading any of the posts? If GG is denied tenure then Iowa is one heck of a university. I know that it is competitive, but don’t you think there is some amount of politics involved? I mean apparently one professor voted against him because of the ID issue. (see post #12) Is that okay with you? Is that how you guys want to win? By forced forfeit or by reasoned argument?

  26. aardpig,
    I would just like to point out a major fallacy in your comment. I did my research as I said I would today. I contacted Nadine Barlow whos title on the NAU website (Keep in mind that NAU has a great astronomy program, come on its located a couple miles away from lowell laboratory!), her record reads as follows “Ph.D. Planetary Science, University of Arizona, 1987″ So as you can tell her opiion is legit (A real college professor, i’m not so sure about you). I will even provide a link if asked.

    My point being that I called her to ask how much funding a professor of Astronomy must recieve to maintain tenure. The first thing she told me is THERE IS NO SET GOAL!!!!!! She said that full time professors can bring in anywhere from $60k-$100k. Whe she told me this on the phone I literally laughed think of your comment “must one land typically $500k or more on funding;”.

    As for your other comments, I have said visit the link on comment 12 to see where his funding did come from (it is nasa btw). Also for your comment on peer review, please look at comment 19.

  27. Dr Dan –

    Thanks for pointing out ADS to the readers of this thread. I’ve used ADS to find all papers by GG, authored during his tenure-track period at ISU (2002-2006), and appearing in refereed journals. URLs for each of these papers are below:

    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2006PASP..118.1494G

    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2006MNRAS.371..781G

    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2006MNRAS.370L..90G

    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2006MNRAS.367L..37G

    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2005ApJ…627..432G

    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2005AJ….129.1428G

    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2004AJ….127..373T

    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2003ApJ…595.1148L

    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2003AJ….125.2664L

    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2003PASP..115..277C

    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2003Icar..162…38W

    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2002Icar..160..183A

    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2002MNRAS.335.1005R

    Looking through these papers, I notice some issues of importance to the tenure decision. First, the overall publication rate (13 papers over 5 years) isn’t particularly stellar; an average of 2.6 papers per year is rather low for a mature astronomer. (I’m at an earlier stage of my career, and over the past three years I put out 17 papers).

    More important, however, is the authorship breakdown. The difference between being first author on the paper, and a co-author, is significant. Usually, the first author will have led the project, and did most of the writing-up. Whereas, a co-author may have made a quite-minor contribution. Thus, when assessing an individual’s publication record, the issue of authorship is very revlevant.

    In GG’s case, the picture is poor. Of the 13 papers he published over his tenure-track process, only 4 were first-author. All of these were written in 2006 (doubtless because he recognized his poor publication record, and strove to make amends). Of these 4, one was a review in a second-tier journal (PASP), and two more appeared in the letters section of Monthly Notices of the RAS. (The letters section in MNRAS is limited to papers of 5 pages or less, and is typically used for smaller, less in-depth pieces of research).

    This raises some questions in my mind. Why didn’t Gonzalez publish a single first-author paper over the period 2002-2005? What was he doing over this period? Moreover, when he did get around to publishing in 2006, why wasn’t there more to show for the preceding years? A paper, two letters and a review — that’s all. Again, what had he been doing?

    My overall conclusion is that — in spite of what Luskin and others have argued — GG’s publication record during the tenure-track process was on the low end of productivity. Combined with the absence of significant grant income, and his prospects for tenure can’t have been good.

    I’m of course happy to debate this further. In particular, if I’ve missed one or more of GG’s relevant papers over the 2002-2006 period, I’d appreciate hearing about it.

  28. Dear Gore –

    I think you’ll find the value is $60k-$100k *per year*. So, over the five-year duration of the tenure-track process, this comes to $300k-$500k — round about the value I quoted.

    His $64k NASA was a one-off grant, was it not? Hmmm.

    Regarding the peer-review issue, I’ve just responded to that in another post. Basically, he’s only published 4 first-author papers in the 2002-2006 period — which is very low productivity.

  29. Further to my comment above: certainly, no set amount of grant funding is required to *maintain* tenure. That’s the whole point of tenure — they can’t fire you, except for gross misconduct.

    However, *getting* tenure is a different matter. If they’re going to give you a guaranteed job for the rest of your life, they want assurances that you’ve got the potential to establish an active research group, and maintain this group through external funding.

    In astronomy, most of this funding goes to pay salaries to post-docs and grad students. At my institution (which is quite typical), the *annual* cost of a post-doc is c. $80k, and for a grad student $40k. So, the one-off $64k NASA grant that Gonzalez secured wouldn’t even have paid for a post-doc for a year.

    How, then, did he demonstrate to ISU that he was able to establish and run a good research group?

    To provide some further perspective: my publication rate is over twice that of Gonzalez, and over the past five years I’ve brought in over $700k from NASA. Yet, I’m finding it challenging to land a tenure-track position. It’s a very competitive job market in astronomy — and ISU are therefore justified in maintaining high standards for tenure.

  30. aardpig,

    You bring up some good points that I will think about. Don’t you think that it is sad though that a scientist can have some very important research in his past but not be able to get tenure? I mean, Einstein didn’t get many publications after a few years. In fact, his career was not very good after a certain point. Newton also, after his laws and calculus did not have a very inspiring career after that. I wonder if they wouldn’t be able to get tenure nowadays in a U.S. university if they couldn’t bring in big grants.

  31. Prof. Hector Avalos must feel pretty silly. He spent all that time organizing a campaign and a petition drive among ISU professors to isolate GG and disavow ID, when all he really had to do was check on how much grant money GG had brought into the school. I mean, as a tenured professor, Avalos must have known about the school’s funding requirements for tenure.

  32. I agree with russ and collin! As for my buddy aardpig, in the same way that you can expect between 60k-100k per year(but thats not the important aspect according to her), I also assumed that you meant 500k per year. I figured 500k would be pretty steep (thats the whole point that I looked into it). I guess if we both clairified that, it would have saved me some time. Maybe tomorrow I will contact the professor again to get further detail, and see what she thinks. Other than that, time will tell why he is truely lost tenure!

  33. Surely GG did not only get the NASA grant. That was only one of his grants. It would be nice if someone could find his total grants so we can judge him. :)

  34. From Luskin’s comments (follow Russ’s link in #12):

    “In fact, Dr. Gonzalez received $64,000 from the NASA Astrobiology Institute from 2001-2004 and $58,000 from the Templeton Foundation from 2000-2003. Additionally, in early, 2007 Dr. Gonzalez obtained a five-year $50,000 grant from Discovery Institute to collect new observational astronomical research data.”

    Assuming these numbers are accurate, that’s a rather poor funding record to show over a 6-year timeframe. Moreover — no grants from any of the big funding programs (e.g., NSF’s Astronomy & Astrophysics Research Grants Program, or NASA’s Astrophysics Theory Program).

  35. Something seems to be eating my posts on GG’s publication record; it may be the large number of URLs I included. Here’s another shot, using an edited version of a post I made a few months ago to UD:

    “I’ve just spent a little time at NASA’s ADS (Astrophysics Data System), hunting down all the papers done by Gonzalez since he arrived at Iowa in 2002.

    I weeded out those papers that weren’t by this particular Gonzalez (there’s someone of the same last name doing work on gravity waves, and also a couple of folks in South America). I then weeded out those papers that were not refereed, or weren’t published in the first- and second-tier journals (these being MNRAS, ApJ, AJ, A&A, Icarus and PASP).

    This left a total of 13 papers, with the following ADS keys:

    1) 2006PASP..118.1494G

    2) 2006MNRAS.371..781G

    3) 2006MNRAS.370L..90G

    4) 2006MNRAS.367L..37G

    5) 2005ApJ…627..432G

    6) 2005AJ….129.1428G

    7) 2004AJ….127..373T

    8) 2003ApJ…595.1148L

    9) 2003AJ….125.2664L

    10) 2003PASP..115..277C

    11) 2003Icar..162…38W

    12) 2002Icar..160..183A

    13) 2002MNRAS.335.1005R

    Of these,

    *) Only 4 (1-4) had Gonzales as the first author

    *) Of these four, one (1) was a review published in PASP, which is a second-tier journal.

    *) Of the remaining 3, which were published in MNRAS (a first-tier journal), *all* of them were short, 4-page letters, rather than substantial pieces of research.

    While letters do contain significant results, they are not comparable to longer, more in-depth papers. Given that the three letters were published in 2006, one suspects that Gonzalez was attempting to make up for the fact that prior to last year, he had not published a *single* first-author paper since arriving at Iowa.

    Moreover, if one counts his total paper output over the past 5 years (whether first author or not), it comes in at 2.6 papers a year, which is pretty poor for someone trying to get tenure.

  36. One further point about GG’s grant income. NONE of the grants I listed were awarded during the tenure-track period (2002-2006). The first two awards were given before Gonzalez arrived at Iowa State (and indeed may have played some role in him being offered a tenure-track position in the first place). The DI award is in 2007, which may have come too late in the game for the tenure decision.

  37. I have alot more sympathy for GG than aardpig. Although, even he (aardpig) would probably agree that none of this makes GG a bad professor. However, it does leave reason to dismiss. I’m not saying its even fair. But, there are serious issues with funding, and the peer reviewed technical notes, while probably valuable contributions, are not something a major research university is looking for.

    All I have been saying is that we can all enjoy Priv Planet, and GG’s contribution to that. But, be careful about painting Iowa as the bad guy. Again, my gut reaction is that Iowa is probably the bad guy, but GG did not do himself any favors by not bringing in funding, or even publishing major peer reviewed paper.

    If Iowa was looking for a reason to dismiss him, they certainly had just cause (if what aardpig is saying is true).

    That also does not mean that he wouldn’t be a fantastic addition to a smaller teaching college who’s expectations are not at the same level as Iowa.

  38. Ajl –

    Please, don’t get me wrong — I’ve got plenty of sympathy for GG. I myself know how tough it can be — and I’ve seen very good scientists fall by the wayside, for reasons similar to GG.

    My point is really that this *isn’t* a clear-cut case of discrimination. Without knowing the full details of what went on with the tenure committee, we can only conjecture that GG’s relationship with ID (for instance, through his DI grant) may have played a role in his tenure decision.

    But as you yourself (Ajl) point out, the deck was already stacked against GG. He *wasn’t* the uber-productive scientist that Casey Luskin has tried to make him out to be — and in fact, to those familiar with academia, Luskin’s patently-ignorant remarks serve only to *weaken* GG’s case. I’m sure there *are* situations at universities where supporters of ID are discriminated against. But this isn’t one of them. Find a different battle, guys.

  39. Does anybody know how GG’s papers stack up in impact (as measured by citations in the Science Citation Index)? I don’t have access to the SCI right now, and I don’t know what a good citation rate is in his field. But citations in the peer-reviewed literature are often used (though rarely spelled out) in tenure decisions.

    Another issue: GG’s book, The Privileged Planet. I think this book is a strike against GG’s tenure and that it would be even if it had nothing to do with ID. This may be surprising, but it’s true. Any assistant professor in the physical sciences who publishes a book before tenure is likely to find that it causes problems. It’s well known that if you publish a book in science before tenure, people will tend to say “he’s not spending enough time at the bench/ telescope/ collider etc.” Obviously in some dsiciplines (in the humanities and some of the softer social sciences) book publication is where it’s at. But from biology to physics, book publication is usually thought of as the privilege of the already-tenured.

  40. Does anybody know how GG’s papers stack up in impact (as measured by citations in the Science Citation Index)?

    This is not the actual number you’re looking for, but I’ll see if I can find it:

    http://www.discovery.org/scrip.....38;id=4079

    According to the Smithsonian/NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS), Dr. Gonzalez has the highest “normalized citation count” among astronomers in his department for his publications since 2001, the year he joined ISU’s faculty. The normalized citation count is a standard measure of the scientific impact of a scientist’s research in the scientific community. Dr. Gonzalez’s research has been featured in Science, Nature, and on the cover of Scientific American, and other professors in his department use an astronomy textbook he authored, which was published by Cambridge University Press.

  41. http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....ronom.html

    Gonzalez joined ISU in 2001. His normalized citation count for articles published during 2001-2007 is 143, the best of any other astronomer in his department during this period. The next best citation count among all of his astronomer colleagues is 103; and the best citation count for a tenured astronomer in his department is only 68, or less than half of Gonzalez’s count.

  42. Post #40 should be blockquoted

  43. Good find russ. This is the type of info I have been wondering about since hearing about the case!

  44. Russ, I’m trying to run the same search and I get a lot fewer articles. But I’m limiting my search to refereed articles. Also, I get a a fair number of self-citations (that is, papers in which Gonzalez is an author), which are usually excluded when comparing citations.

  45. Here are the OFFICIAL reasons cited for denying Gonzalez tenure ( none of them related to his work on ID) :

    Geoffroy said he focused his review on Gonzalez’s overall record of scientific accomplishment as an assistant professor at ISU.

    He also said he:

    1) Considered peer review publications,

    2) Gonzalez’s level of success in attracting research funding and grants,

    3) The amount of telescope observing time he had been granted,

    4) The number of graduate students he had supervised and

    5) The overall evidence of his future career promise in the field of astronomy.

    Regarding #1, all objective evidence tells us that Gonzalez EXCEEDS the criteria.

    According to the Smithsonian/NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS), Dr. Gonzalez has the highest “normalized citation count” among astronomers in his department for his publications since 2001, the year he joined ISU’s faculty. The normalized citation count is a standard measure of the scientific impact of a scientist’s research in the scientific community.

    There should be NO DOUBT as to Gonzalez’s qualifications here.

    Regarding #2, I think this should be judged against the success of attracting research funding of OTHER TENURED faculty members at ISU. How does Gonzalez success in attracting research funding COMPARE to those who were tenured ?

    Since I am not privy to this data, I can’t answer that. Anybody in the know who can enlighten us ?

    Regarding #3, The question should be asked of ISU — exactly what amount of telescope observation time is REQUIRED in order to be considered satisfactory ? They do not say. Also, we do not know how much time Gonzalez actually had the chance to spend on this.

    Regarding #4, How many graduate students must one supervise in order to be considered satisfactory ? Is it fair to compare the number one supervises in say, the engineering or health science programs ( more popular in my opinion ) as compared to astronomy ? ( which will definitely have less enrolees ) ?

    The problem I have is this — the school does not have a METRIC at all for determining what is and is not satisfactory in terms of telescope observing time AND number of graduate students supervised.

    Criteria #5 is of course SUBJECTIVEand is really depended on criterias #1 to #4.

  46. getawitness: I didn’t do the search myself, I only referenced the discovery.org article, so someone with more expertise than myself will have to fact check the piece.

  47. Seekandfind – Geoffroy would have examined the number of papers published by Gonzales during his time at Iowa. Citations weren’t relevant, still less citations to papers published before then.

    On the funding issue, the numbers I’ve seen for the amount of funding Gonzales received wouldn’t be enough to support a single graduate student through a PhD. For someone in Gonzales’ situation, that’s not good – he should be trying to build his research group up by attracting funding so he can hire students and post-docs. Even if there aren’t any set targets, it’s difficult to do worse than no students. I doubt that things are that different between my field(s) and astronomy – they have to train students too. This pretty much answers point 4 as well, unless he was given start-up money to hire students.

    Bob

  48. SeekandFind:

    The problem I have is this — the school does not have a METRIC at all for determining what is and is not satisfactory in terms of telescope observing time AND number of graduate students supervised.

    whether you have a problem with it or not is irrelevant. That is the way it is.

    And, while it is possible to turn anyone down for any reason, GG made their job easier.

    If, instead of getting grants from DI and Templeton, and a $64,000 NASA grant, he published a paper in Science, or Nature, or one of the leading journal in his field, got a $500,000 grant (or, two $250,000 grants) in the 6 years he was at Iowa while they still could have denied him tenure, it would be a harder sell.

    As you’ve seen Bob O’H, myself, and aardpig indicate, his indirect costs where very poor. In this case, there was alot of room for criticism. In fact, in my field, even if you were at a teaching college with a heavy course load, the amount of money he received on the tenure clock is unimpressive.

    Again, I say, just be careful which wagon you hook your horses to. Mike Behe said it well of Assistant Professors who advocate ID: “keep your head down (that is, do your research), and you mouth shut”. Once you get tenure, there will be ample time to publish things like PP and do interviews with Lee Strobel, etc. Until then, earn your keep as a Professor at your University.

    If this thing keeps getting pushed, I’m afraid GG will eventually be publicly ridiculed. Remember, Iowa holds all the cards – they can pick and choose the shortcomings like its been done here. And, they have alot of justification for doing so.

  49. If in good faith, the caution to form and hold conclusions tentatively when we are lacking in some information is appreciated. We are not in the position of holding all the facts; but with the facts we do have we can come to some reasonable but admittedly tentative conclusions.

    It seems we can agree that universities attempt to draw researchers who will increase the respectability of their institutions. A way this happens is through development of productive concepts that expand scientific research. One can judge how productive a concept has been by it’s use in the field by other researchers as well as it’s ability augment or refine current methodologies and production of new ones. Judging from journal citations and appearance in popular scientific journals and newspaper articles, G. Gonzalez’s lead author article on GHZ in Icarus has been a productive and novel one. So in this respect, aside from his many other scientific contributions, it’s hard to see how he could not meet even a high bar set for tenure.

    As for the case of research funding, it seems legally dangerous not to document that requirement.

  50. Again, I say, just be careful which wagon you hook your horses to. Mike Behe said it well of Assistant Professors who advocate ID: “keep your head down (that is, do your research), and you mouth shut”.

    No wonder contempt for the academy continues to grow.

    See this:

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/.....3rlosv.asp

    However, writing in the Des Moines Register, Professor John Hauptman, another department colleague, honestly admitted that he voted against Gonzalez because of The Privileged Planet; Hauptman conceded that the rejected professor “is very creative, intelligent and knowledgeable, highly productive scientifically and an excellent teacher.”

  51. RE:

    ————–
    If, instead of getting grants from DI and Templeton, and a $64,000 NASA grant, he published a paper in Science, or Nature, or one of the leading journal in his field, got a $500,000 grant (or, two $250,000 grants) in the 6 years he was at Iowa while they still could have denied him tenure, it would be a harder sell.
    ———————–

    Well, the least the university could do is spell out OPENLY exactly how much grant money is considered SATISFACTORY. There is absolutely NO WRITTEN REQUIREMENT regarding this matter.

    Also, it is a very simple matter to compare the grant money Gonzalez received during his stay COMPARED to other faculty members. If the money he is able to receive exceeds AT LEAST ONE tenured faculty member, then this so called “grant money” issue becomes moot.

    Because of this, one cannot help but suspect that grant money is an EXCUSE and the real reason lies someplace else.

  52. aardpig seems to like making personal attacks against me by stating: “I’m sorry, but Casey Luskin isn’t qualified to evaluate Gonzales’ publication record” and calling me “disingenuous” and “patently ignorant.”

    I wasn’t aware that going to law school negated my 2 university degrees in science, and I’m not interested in calling people names on this forum, but I would encourage UncommonDescent users to realize that aardpig is promoting false information about Dr. Gonzalez’s track record and he is ignoring all of the undeniable evidence of anti-ID discrimination against Gonzalez at ISU. Here are the facts:

    (1) aardpig asserts that “arguably, the amount of money brought in is the *most* important factor in tenure decisions at research universities.” Why then does Dr. Gonzalez’s department does not even list grants as a criterion for gaining tenure? Instead, the only objective standard in their tenure guidelines states, “For promotion to associate professor, excellence sufficient to lead to a national or international reputation is required and would ordinarily be shown by the publication of approximately fifteen papers of good quality in refereed journals.” Dr. Gonzalez exceeds this objective standard by 350%!

    (2) Dr. Gonzalez has 6 peer-reviewed papers wherein he is first author from 2002-2006, not 4 as aardpig suggests. Additionally, some of his papers were co-authored with graduate students, wherein it is reasonable to presume that he was trying to help the grad student by letting him be first author.

    (3) Aardpig makes another personal attack stating that it is “disingenuous” to compare Dr. Gonzalez to faculty in other fields. In reality, questions about tenure are commonly settled by comparing a faculty member in question to other faculty at the university who received tenure. But regardless, I’m more than happy to compare Gonzalez to other ISU astronomers:
    - Dr. Gonzalez has a higher total normalized life-time citation count than all but one tenured astronomer in his department, and leads all tenured ISU astronomers when their citation record is corrected to take into account their status at Dr. Gonzalez’s career stage;
    - Dr. Gonzalez leads all tenured ISU astronomers who voted on his tenure in his normalized citation count since 2001, the year he joined ISU;
    - Dr. Gonzalez leads tenured ISU astronomers who voted on his tenure in normalized publications during that same period.

    So the reality is that it appears that he outperformed every ISU astronomer who voted against his tenure during his probationary period. That shows very high productivity, and that’s an extremely relevant comparison. To do the campuswide comparison once more, Dr. Gonzalez has more peer-reviewed journal articles than all but 5 faculty granted tenure at ISU since 2003.

    (4) Dr. Gonzalez’s work has been praised in Science, Nature, and he co-authored a peer-reviewed astronomy textbook with Cambridge University Press. He was also invited to write various review papers in recent years. These are all indicators of his “national or international reputation.” I’m not aware of any other ISU astronomers who published a peer-reviewed textbook with Cambridge University Press recently.

    You can debate all you want about grants. But the bottom line is that Dr. Gonzalez is eminently qualified for tenure under his department’s standard of having “excellence sufficient to lead to a national or international reputation.”

    Finally, aardpig thinks that there is no evidence of discrimination here. To make this statement he must deny all of the statements that DO EXIST from ISU faculty showing that they discriminated against Dr. Gonzalez due to ID. If aardpig wants to pretend that there was no anti-ID prejudice at ISU, then he’s going to have to explain to us all why the evidence documented in the links below somehow does not exist:

    Secret ISU Faculty E-mails Express Vitriol Towards Intelligent Design, Disregard for Academic Freedom, and attempts to Hide a Plot to Oust an Outstanding Scientist

    and

    Design Was the Issue After All: ISU’s official explanation in Gonzalez case exposed as a sham

    For this reason, SeekandFind is correct to state “one cannot help but suspect that grant money is an EXCUSE and the real reason lies someplace else.” Read those links, and you will find the real reasons.

  53. Aardpig: You wrote, “I’m sorry, but Casey Luskin isn’t qualified to evaluate Gonzales’ publication record. He’s a lawyer, not an astronomer. I, however, *am* an astronomer. While none of us will probably ever know what went on at ISU, let me offer some perspectives based on my *own* experience of the tenure process in astronomy departments at research universities.”

    I really grow weary of credentialism and elitism in this debate. In mathematics, someone who does probability theory is not qualified to assess the actual research of someone who works in algebraic geometry. Yet there are all sorts of objective measures by which the quality and impact of the research can be assessed even by someone outside the field.

    I’ve tolerated you because funding is an issue in tenure considerations these days and you seem to have some expertise here. But step out of line again, and you’re out of here.

  54. russ [46], I may have done the search incorrectly. It’s a curious and poorly documented page, so it’s not clear how exactly they set up the search.

    I agree with SeekandFind and Casey that “the real reason lies someplace else” than in grants. I’m perfectly willing to believe that animosity to ID played a role (though I also think that PP would have likely counted against him even if it weren’t an ID book, simply because books by assistant professors in science are nearly always a black mark). I’m just surprised that people are, well, surprised about this.

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