Pharyngula

Beckwith’s tenure decision

More details are dribbling out about the decision to deny Francis Beckwith tenure. It’s a little bit odd, because these things are supposed to be confidential, and I will note that Beckwith, to his credit, is not commenting on the decision while trying to appeal it. I hope his appeal does not succeed, however. I agree completely with this fellow, Dr Jim Patton, who clearly states a legitimate reason for kicking Beckwith out (warning: Free Republic link):

When tenure time approached, the anti-Sloan [Sloan was the former Baylor president who had hired Dembski and Beckwith] interim president, William Underwood, appointed psychology professor Jim Patton, the chair of the anti-Sloan faculty senate, to Mr. Beckwith’s tenure committee. In an e-mail message about another faculty member shown to WORLD, Mr. Patton wrote, “I clearly do not think highly of anyone who claims ID theory is science.”

I get to vote on tenure decisions at my university, and I can assure you that if someone comes up who claims that ID ‘theory’ is science, I will vote against them. If someone thinks the sun orbits around the earth, I will vote against them. If someone thinks fairies live in their garden and pull up the flowers out of the ground every spring, I will vote against them. Tenure decisions are not pro forma games, but a process of evaluation, and I’d rather not have crackpots promoted. Beckwith may be a nice fellow with a commendable publication record, but when it gets right down to it, his untenable position on intelligent design puts him smack in the middle of the tinfoil hat brigade. And that position on ID is a focus of many of his publications, so it is certainly a legitimate criterion for judging him.

(Before the inevitable trollish twit starts claiming this is a sign of intolerance, I’ll short circuit that by stating that whether a person is Christian or Muslim or atheist, Republican or Democrat or Green, is not an issue in tenure decisions and would not be and has not been a factor in any tenure votes I’ve cast. I do not object to differences in opinion among my colleagues. I do object to keeping fools around.)