Ball State University (BSU) in Muncie, Indiana, was the site of “Hedingate,” the controversy about whether Eric Hedin, a professor of Physics and Astronomy, could proselytize his students for Intelligent Design (ID) and Abrahamic religion in his Honors science class. After a complaint to the President by the Freedom from Religion Foundation, BSU’s president, Jo Ann Gora, convened a panel of academics to study the matter. She wound up making a strong and no-nonsense statement that ID would not be taught in BSU’s science classes.
The Discovery Institute kvetched mightily, and leaned on four Republican Indiana legislators to threaten BSU with loss of funding for their “censorship” of ID. Those legislators met with Gora a few months ago and, as far as I know, there was no conclusive outcome, as I expected. There was simply no way that the President would make her university the laughingstock of scientists by allowing people like Hedin to teach goddy stuff in science classes.
All this has been documented in detail on this site, for it was a nice victory for real science against the superstitions of ID and their whining flaks.
Last fall, Gora announced that she would resign her presidency at the end of June, which is in one month. And her replacement has just been announced, a person who will give no succor, I think, to the creationist IDers. For the replacement is a scientist—BSU’s very first president with a background in hard science.
The local paper, the Muncie Star-Press, gives details:
Paul W. Ferguson, who will take over as Ball State’s 15th president this summer, early in his career worked as a pregnancy research specialist at the Los Angeles County-University of Southern California Medical Center; as a research biologist for agricultural chemicals producer Pennwalt Corp., and as a senior toxicologist in the medical and legal departments for Union Oil Company of California, creator of the Union 76 brand.
His research projects have included the effects of pesticides and other chemicals on mice, rats, monkeys and crayfish. . .
Technically, Ferguson will become the second scientist to lead Ball State, Geelhoed noted.
In the month between President Jo Ann Gora’s departure on June 30 and Ferguson’s arrival on Aug. 1, Provost Terry King will serve as interim president. A chemical engineer who once worked as a researcher for ExxonMobil Chemical, King came to Ball State after serving nine years as dean of the College of Engineering at Kansas State University.
. . . Ferguson, a former professor, is currently president of the University of Maine and formerly spent five years as provost at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville.
Well, some people will object that working for Big Oil and Big Agro tarnishes one’s credentials as a scientist, but I’ll take what I can get. And such a background makes it less likely that he’ll cater to or cower before the Discovery Institute or other creationists.
Cue the kvetching over at Evolution News and Views.