7 September 2007
The Baylor President, Provost, Dean of Engineering, and Baylor legal counsel need to get their story straight:
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Not so fast: Baylor’s treatment of an ID-advancing research lab has shifted from friendly to fire | Mark Bergin
WORLD Magazine, September 15, 2007, Vol. 22, No. 33
Last month, as John Gilmore flew home from Waco, Texas, after apparently resolving a dispute at Baylor University over a faculty member’s website supporting intelligent design, the Minnesota attorney sipped a glass of wine, looked out the window, and wondered to himself, “Was this too easy?”
Turns out, it was. On Aug. 9, Baylor officials had agreed that distinguished engineering professor Robert Marks could repost his evolutionary informatics website on the Baptist school’s server spaceif a disclaimer made clear that any research advancing intelligent design does not represent an institutional position. Less than two weeks later, Gilmore received an email from Baylor general counsel Charles Beckenhauer detailing considerable further alterations Marks needed to make before reposting his site.
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In an email to WORLD, Provost O’Brien took issue with the notion that the university has reneged on the Aug. 9 decision. He claims instead “that the agreement has not been honored by our esteemed colleague. Our position has not changed, nor has our hope that the agreement will be honored.”
But Gilmore told WORLD that he and Marks left the Aug. 9 meeting wholly satisfied with the outcome. Indeed, Marks remarked at the time that the entire ordeal had been “wonderfully resolved” (see WORLD, Aug. 25, 2007).
Either Gilmore and Marks completely misunderstood the university’s original position, or O’Brien and Kelley had a dramatic change of heart. “We had eight professionals discuss this for more than two hours. There wasn’t a misunderstanding. Somebody didn’t like the outcome of that meeting,” Gilmore said.
William Dembski, a leading ID proponent who saw Baylor’s anti-ID forces derail his Michael Polanyi Center in 2000, believes only university president John Lilley holds enough sway to overrule the provost’s earlier decision. Dembski told WORLD that Lilley is concerned about “how Baylor might be perceived in the wider university culture if it were seen as supporting intelligent design.”
Given an opportunity to respond to that assertion, Lilley referred WORLD to Baylor’s vice president for marketing and communications, who did not respond to a request for comment.
Baylor attorney Beckenhauer also did not reply to WORLD’s inquiry, but he wrote in an email response to Gilmore that the Aug. 9 meeting never represented “a final agreement of any kind.” That contention conflicts with O’Brien’s claim that the university still hopes Marks will honor the initial resolution.
Beckenhauer further stated that Baylor might impose “supervisory directions” for Marks to fulfill his “obligation to perform the work assigned to him by Baylor.” Gilmore called that statement a “veiled threat” to impugn his client’s performance, an arena previously unquestioned in the four years since university officials eagerly recruited Marks to Baylor.
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