Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

State News

May 9, 2014

Ball State promotes professor from course dispute

MUNCIE (AP) — A Ball State University faculty member has been promoted after being told last year to stop teaching intelligent design in a science course.

That action comes after a private meeting last month between university officials and four conservative state legislators who raised religious and academic freedom concerns about the treatment of physics faculty member Eric Hedin, The Star Press reported.

State Senate education committee Chairman Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, said Ball State officials were “very attentive” to those concerns.

“A majority of issues have been resolved, and I look forward to working more on these matters concerning academic freedom with the university,” Kruse said.

Ball State officials began reviewing the “Boundaries of Science” class taught by Hedin after complaints that he was inappropriately teaching intelligent design, which holds that the complexity found in nature must be from rational design, as by God.

Ball State spokeswoman Joan Todd declined to give details on the meeting with the lawmakers.

“It was a productive meeting, a great opportunity to discuss important issues, and at this time we have nothing more to add,” she said.

Ball State President Jo Ann Gora concluded last summer that intelligent design is overwhelmingly regarded by the scientific community as a religious belief and not a scientific theory.

Despite that rebuke, Hedin was among 19 assistant professors promoted to associate professor last week by Ball State’s Board of Trustees.

“I am thankful that the university has confirmed its earlier statement that my academic credentials are an asset to the university, and that I remain an important and valued member of the physics and astronomy department,” Hedin said.

The Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based intelligent design think tank, has defended Hedin’s course at the 18,000-student campus in Muncie.

John West, a vice president at The Discovery Institute, said the public deserves more information on how the dispute has been resolved.

“Professor Hedin is a superb scientist, and so it is good that BSU has recognized that fact,” West said. “But that makes their one-sided censorship of Hedin — but not of professors who oppose intelligent design — all the more disturbing.”

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