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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Hastiness of denial of Gonzalez tenure appeal is very fishy

I said that I wasn't going to write a "me-too" article about the Gonzalez tenure issue at ISU, but I have decided to break my silence. ISU President Gregory L. Geoffroy has announced his decision to deny Gonzalez's appeal of denial of tenure. What I am wondering about is Geoffroy's hastiness in making the decision -- he had until June 6 but he made the decision on June 1. To me that suggests that he knew of some unpublicized information that is strongly in Gonzalez's favor and so he wanted to rule against tenure before that information became public so he could claim that he was not aware of it and so that it played no part in his decision. Perhaps one such piece of information is correct data about the total outside grant funds individually acquired by tenure candidates in Gonzalez's department. A news article says,
.
Iowa State University has sponsored $22,661 in outside grant money for Guillermo Gonzalez since July 2001, records show. In that same time period, Gonzalez's peers in physics and astronomy secured an average of $1.3 million by the time they were granted tenure.

First of all, the $22,661 figure is incorrect. The Discovery Institute says,

From 2001-2004, Dr. Gonzalez was a Co-Investigator on a NASA Astrobiology Institute grant for "Habitable Planets and the Evolution of Biological Complexity" (his part of the grant for this time period was $64,000).

From 2000-2003, Dr. Gonzalez received a $58,000 grant from the Templeton Foundation. This grant was awarded as part of a competitive, peer-reviewed grant process, and his winning grant proposal had been peer-reviewed by a number of distinguished astronomers and scientists.

Earlier in 2007, Dr. Gonzalez was awarded a 5-year research grant for his work in observational astronomy from Discovery Institute (worth $50,000).

Also, the $1.3 million figure for Gonzalez's peers seems fishy to me because I have heard that outside grant money is hard to get in astronomy, Gonzalez's field (I don't know about physics, but since Gonzalez is not a physicist, outside grants received by physicists should not be included in the comparison). And how could these beginning faculty members attract an average of $1.3 million in outside grants when Gonzalez, who had a track record of over 40 peer-reviewed papers when he started at ISU, couldn't come anywhere near this figure? The Discovery Institute reported on June 1 that ISU is very slow in releasing data about outside grants received by faculty members:

On May 16, Discovery Institute filed a public document request under Iowa's open records act in order to obtain the grant and publication data of faculty considered for tenure in ISU's Department of Physics and Astronomy since 1997 and for faculty in other departments considered for tenure since 2002. Thus far the university has provided no data in response to these requests, nor as of today has it responded to repeated requests about when the requested information will be provided.

Also, the tenure guidelines of Gonzalez's department do not even mention outside grants as a consideration in tenure decisions.

The foolish campaign to try to improve ISU's reputation by getting rid of Gonzalez has backfired by severely damaging ISU's reputation. "He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind." Proverbs 11:29 The ISU faculty members and administrators who participated in this campaign have troubled their own house, ISU, and are now inheriting pure unadulterated Iowa prairie wind.

Gonzalez now has the option of appealing to the ISU board of regents.

Related article on this blog:

It's the Darwinists who drive away people, businesses
.

12 Comments:

Anonymous JC said...

Avalos is a real piece of work, Larry.

In this book "Fighting Words" he says that we need to "REMOVE RELIGION FROM HUMAN LIFE".

p.359.

By peaceful means, HOPEFULLY.

And if not? Well, that would be "regrettable.".

Unfortunately, historically speaking, removing religion from human life has meant removing life from a lot of humans.

Sunday, June 03, 2007 5:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice in the Urbanness said...

> What I am wondering about is Geoffroy's hastiness in making the decision <

Five days early is hasty?

> To me that suggests that he knew of some unpublicized information that is strongly in Gonzalez's favor <

To me that suggests paranoia.

Sunday, June 03, 2007 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Voice in the Urbanness said,
>>>>>> Five days early is hasty? <<<<<<

Considering the great importance of tenure decisions, particularly this one, the ISU president should have waited until the last minute to give as much time as possible for all evidence and opinions to be submitted. 20 days was little enough time to make this decision but he made it in only 15 days. I found his hastiness to be very suspicious.

One suggestion that I sent to him was that he should take the fall by resigning for the good of the university instead of making a decision on Gonzalez's tenure appeal. He could have swapped positions with another ISU administrator or become just a professor of chemistry, a title that he already holds at the university. IMO his decision on the appeal was tainted because he had already decided against granting tenure to Gonzalez, as I remember. My suggestion that he resign -- an option he might not have considered -- probably reached him too late because I sent it to him on the day that he announced his decision.

Monday, June 04, 2007 11:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice in the wilderness said...

> My suggestion that he resign -- an option he might not have considered -- probably reached him too late because I sent it to him on the day that he announced his decision.<

He should be promoted for his efficiency in not dragging out an easy and obvious decision.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007 12:18:00 AM  
Anonymous W. Kevin Vicklund said...

Larry's conspiracy theory is ridiculous on its face, and demonstrates that Larry doesn't understand the tenure review process at all.

Larry claims in the post:

>>>To me that suggests that he knew of some unpublicized information that is strongly in Gonzalez's favor and so he wanted to rule against tenure before that information became public so he could claim that he was not aware of it and so that it played no part in his decision. Perhaps one such piece of information is correct data about the total outside grant funds individually acquired by tenure candidates in Gonzalez's department.<<<

and in the comments:

>>>Considering the great importance of tenure decisions, particularly this one, the ISU president should have waited until the last minute to give as much time as possible for all evidence and opinions to be submitted.<<<

Larry, the tenure review process is very straight-forward. With the exception of obtaining the specified outside reviews, the candidate and the department chair are solely responsible for the presentation of credentials. At each stage of the process, the candidate is given a written explanation of the reasons why he was rejected and/or why the recommendation of the previous level was rejected. The review is then advanced to the next stage, and the candidate has a chance to amend the tenure vita prior to the next stage of review. By the time it had gotten to the president the first time, it had gone through the following levels of review:
1.department committee
2.department chair
3.department (per department guidelnes)
4.college committee
5.dean
6.provost
7.president

In other words, Gonzalez had eight chances to bring up these grants - initially and after each level of review. Gonzalez either brought them up and they were deemed insufficient, knew that they wouldn't meet the criteria and thereby left them out, or he was so bloody incompetent that it's a wonder that he could get a grant on his own in the first place.

There is a procedure for adding relevant data, but only the candidate or the department chair may use it. The only people allowed to introduce information are the candidate, the selected outside reviewers, the department chair, and perhaps the review committees (but only at that level of review). Neither Larry, the DI, nor I could add anything to the review or appeal process. And Larry's utterly idiotic suggestion was also suggested in the local papers, so it's not like the president didn't have the opportunity to consider it. Once Gonzalez submitted his appeal and he and the department chair had nothing, there was no reason to delay the ruling. In fact, by making the ruling three business days earlier, he is giving Gonzalez a head start on making his future plans. It should also be noted that there are two methods of appealing; president or Faculty Senate Committe on Appeals. Gonzalez chose the administrative option. Its his own damn fault if he forgot to bring forth important information or chose to have the president review his own decision.

Now, to the outside funding issue. The article Larry quotes states the following "Iowa State University has sponsored $22,661 in outside grant money for Guillermo Gonzalez since July 2001, records show." The bold is important.

The first grant listed by the DI was not sponsored by ISU. Rather, it was sponsored by the University of Washington, his previous affiliation. Not only was he not the primary investigator for that grant, his part of it was so small that he was listed as last of 26 co-investigators/collaborators.

Similarly, the second grant mentioned was awarded well-prior to his move to ISU, and as such, was sponsored by University of Washington if it was sponsored at all.

Both of these grants pre-date his move to ISU. Even Larry has publicly admitted that it wouldn't be fair to include prior work, why should grant consideration be any different?

Finally, the DI fellowship. Certainly, if he was awarded this after the start of the review process, it would be a candidate for Treatment of Late-Developed Information, as the University Faculty Handbook calls it. However, according to university guidelines, this grant may not meet the criteria to be considered ISU sponsored. Alternatively, the red tape needed to make this ISU sponsored may not have been fully cut through yet.

In any case, the article itself was correct in what it stated.

Larry brings up the issue of what was brought in by members of the astronomy research group, rather than the department as a whole. The last three to be granted tenure in Astronomy all brought in (as primary invastigators) at least $225,000 between the time they were hired as assistant professors and when they were given tenure. This does not include any grants prior to their arrival or after their promotion (I excluded grants that I couldn't verify were awarded during that time). Kawaler had a total of at least $280,000 in grants according to his CV, Krennrich had a grant for $225,000 according to an ISU press release, and Pohl, who was granted tenure this year, had a grant worth almost $250,000. Note that those are minimums - I wasn't sure whether to include some of Kawaler's grants, and Krennrich and Pohl may have had additional grants.

It should also be noted that, as a whole, the department has traditionally had about 80% of its tenured and tenure-track faculty receiving sponsored outside funding sometime in the previous 3 years (from academic years 2001-2002 through 2004-2005 reports), which ties it for third-best (with biology) in the college (not university, mind you).

Tuesday, June 05, 2007 2:17:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Kevin wheezes,
>>>>>> The only people allowed to introduce information are the candidate, the selected outside reviewers, the department chair, and perhaps the review committees . . . Neither Larry, the DI, nor I could add anything to the review or appeal process. <<<<<<

Bullshit -- lots of people told the ISU president their opinions about the appeal.

>>>>>> And Larry's utterly idiotic suggestion was also suggested in the local papers, so it's not like the president didn't have the opportunity to consider it. <<<<<<

Where was it suggested in the local papers? And because it seems to be an "idiotic" suggestion, maybe no or few other people thought of it.

>>>>>> Once Gonzalez submitted his appeal and he and the department chair had nothing, there was no reason to delay the ruling. <<<<<<

What in the hell do you mean, he and the department chair had "nothing"? Gonzalez had a lot -- lots of peer-reviewed papers with high citation counts, co-authorship of an astronomy textbook used by his department, authorship of a popular book titled "Privileged Planet," and $172K in outside funding. What a moron.

>>>>>> In fact, by making the ruling three business days earlier, he is giving Gonzalez a head start on making his future plans. <<<<<<

Now that is about the dumbest argument I ever heard.

>>>>>> The first grant listed by the DI was not sponsored by ISU. Rather, it was sponsored by the University of Washington, his previous affiliation. <<<<<<

WHAT? Why in hell does an outside grant have to be "sponsored" by ISU?

>>>>> Not only was he not the primary investigator for that grant, his part of it was so small that he was listed as last of 26 co-investigators/collaborators. <<<<<<

That doesn't mean anything. If it was a blg grant, being listed last of 26 can still be quite significant.

>>>>>> Both of these grants pre-date his move to ISU. <<<<<

Both of what grants? You mentioned only one grant that was made prior to his move to ISU.

>>>>> Even Larry has publicly admitted that it wouldn't be fair to include prior work, why should grant consideration be any different? <<<<<<<

Grant money that is left over after his move to ISU should still be counted.

>>>>>>> In any case, the article itself was correct in what it stated. <<<<<<

WHAT? The article didn't mention the Templeton Foundation's $58K, the DI's $50K, or that shared grant's $64K.

>>>>>>> Larry brings up the issue of what was brought in by members of the astronomy research group, rather than the department as a whole. <<<<<<<

WHAT? I didn't bring up anything -- it was the Des Moines Register article that brought up the issue of the average total grant funding received prior to tenure by Gonzalez's colleagues who were granted tenure.

>>>>> The last three to be granted tenure in Astronomy all brought in (as primary invastigators) at least $225,000 between the time they were hired as assistant professors and when they were given tenure. <<<<<<

The DI has been trying for days to get this information, so how in the hell did you get it? And how does that figure compare with the $1.3 million average claimed by the Des Moines Register article?

>>>>> It should also be noted that, as a whole, the department has traditionally had about 80% of its tenured and tenure-track faculty receiving sponsored outside funding sometime in the previous 3 years. <<<<<

Again, where did you get this information? You are just talking through your hat.

You are so full of crap that it is coming out your ears.

We may now expect ViW, ViU, Hector, and other trolls to crow about how you completely refuted me.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007 7:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

>>>>>> The only people allowed to introduce information are the candidate, the selected outside reviewers, the department chair, and perhaps the review committees . . . Neither Larry, the DI, nor I could add anything to the review or appeal process. <<<<<<

> Bullshit -- lots of people told the ISU president their opinions about the appeal.<

People could stand outside a courthouse carrying signs saying "The End of the World is Near." but the judge or jury doesn't have to consider that in their deliberations.

> Gonzalez had a lot <

That was irrelevant.

> Now that is about the dumbest argument I ever heard. <

Are you unaware of your own arguments? They are almost all dumb and in saying "almost" I am being quite charitible.

> The DI has been trying for days to get this information, so how in the hell did you get it? <

Kevin has always shown himself to be very resourceful and you give no evidence to the contrary. Do you have any?

> We may now expect ViW, ViU, Hector, and other trolls to crow about how you completely refuted me. <

Well he did, as usual.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007 9:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Other Troll said...

< because it seems to be an "idiotic" suggestion, maybe no or few other people thought of it. >

(-: ROFL! :-)

We should be so lucky!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007 10:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Tiparos said...

"Hastiness of denial of Gonzalez tenure appeal is very fishy"

This problem can be alleviated by fermentation.

Thursday, June 07, 2007 10:35:00 AM  
Anonymous W. Kevin Vicklund said...

>>>Bullshit -- lots of people told the ISU president their opinions about the appeal.<<<

Opinions that the president is not allowed to consider. Voice gives a great analogy of why you objection is irrelevant. Once the people who were allowed to give input gave that input (or declined to give input), there was no need to dealy the decision. It would be unfair to Gonzalez to delay the decision so that hypothetical opinions that can't be considered might have a chance to be aired.

>>>>>> Once Gonzalez submitted his appeal and he and the department chair had nothing, there was no reason to delay the ruling. <<<<<<

>>>What in the hell do you mean, he and the department chair had "nothing"? Gonzalez had a lot -- lots of peer-reviewed papers with high citation counts, co-authorship of an astronomy textbook used by his department, authorship of a popular book titled "Privileged Planet," and $172K in outside funding. What a moron.<<<

Sorry, the confusion here is my fault. The sentence was supposed read "Once Gonzalez submitted his appeal and he and the department chair had nothing to add, there was no reason to delay the ruling." I did not intend to imply that Gonzalez had no credentials at all, just that once he and the department chair had amended or declined to amend the record, there was nothing else anyone could add.

>>>WHAT? Why in hell does an outside grant have to be "sponsored" by ISU?<<<

An outside grant has to meet certain standards to be sponsored by ISU. My guess is that because the name of the university gets associated with the research, the university has an interest in making sure the grant is used properly (university affiliation is a big deal in academia). I'm not really the person to ask. I was merely pointing out a fact relevant to the conversation.

>>>That doesn't mean anything. If it was a blg grant, being listed last of 26 can still be quite significant.<<<

The point of being on tenure track is that you are in a probationary period to demonstrate that you are able to direct research/teaching programs. His ability to collaborate on research projects directed by others is quite excellent and most likely is what landed him the position at ISU. But simply completing projects from your previous place of employment, projects directed by others, is not sufficient to demonstrate the ability to direct research projects on your own. To use a sports analogy, he had to step up his game.

>>>>>> Both of these grants pre-date his move to ISU. <<<<<<

>>>Both of what grants? You mentioned only one grant that was made prior to his move to ISU.<<<

Let's review the record. I wrote the following, without any internal omissions:

The first grant listed by the DI was not sponsored by ISU. Rather, it was sponsored by the University of Washington, his previous affiliation. Not only was he not the primary investigator for that grant, his part of it was so small that he was listed as last of 26 co-investigators/collaborators.

Similarly, the second grant mentioned was awarded well-prior to his move to ISU, and as such, was sponsored by University of Washington if it was sponsored at all.

Both of these grants pre-date his move to ISU.


I, in fact, mentioned two grants prior to the sentence you objected to. Both of those grants to which I made reference pre-date his acceptance to ISU. Since you are too bloody stupid to even remember what the hell you or I wrote, I guess I will have to be more specific:

The 2001-2004 NASA grant and the 2000-2003 book-writing grant pre-date his arrival at ISU.

>>>Grant money that is left over after his move to ISU should still be counted.<<<

It was already considered when he was offered the job. The probationary period is for new work, not old.

>>>WHAT? The article didn't mention the Templeton Foundation's $58K, the DI's $50K, or that shared grant's $64K.<<<

The article correctly stated the amount of all of the ISU-supported grants he received. It was therefore correct. Like many other tenure-track faculty, he had grants prior to and overlapping his move. And just like other tenure-track faculty, those prior grants count only for getting him the original position, not for tenure. And the president either knew about the DI grant, or it is Gonzalez's own damn fault for not including it.

>>>>>> Larry brings up the issue of what was brought in by members of the astronomy research group, rather than the department as a whole. <<<<<<

>>>WHAT? I didn't bring up anything -- it was the Des Moines Register article that brought up the issue of the average total grant funding received prior to tenure by Gonzalez's colleagues who were granted tenure.<<<

So you deny writing the following sentence in your original post?

>>>(I don't know about physics, but since Gonzalez is not a physicist, outside grants received by physicists should not be included in the comparison)<<<

I see three options, Larry. Someone has hacked your blogger account, you are too bloody stupid to remember what you wrote, or you are a lying sack of shit. Which is it?

>>>The DI has been trying for days to get this information, so how in the hell did you get it? And how does that figure compare with the $1.3 million average claimed by the Des Moines Register article?<<<

Well, first I went to the Astronomy group's home page and, after ascertaining the most recent tenure appointments, went to the individual faculty homepages. Kawaler lists the grants he received and their amounts - it was a simple task of addition. This is so simple, Larry ught to be able to do it himself. Krennrich was a bit tougher, but using a google search on "Krennrich grant" I found the following press release by ISU: DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY NAMES ISU'S KRENNRICH OUTSTANDING JUNIOR INVESTIGATOR. Finally, for Pohl, he has links to all his publications. The publications in which he claims ISU affiliation (not including those where he simply lists ISU as his current address) he is the primary investigator for a NASA grant. Using google, I discovered a budget report claiming that the NASA grant was for nearly $250,000 and that ISU was the sponsored institution. This is not by any means complete - as I said, Krennrich and Pohl may have had additional grants, and I chose not to include some of Kawaler's grants because of boundary conditions.

As for why DI couldn't get it, I have no idea, other than they did bother doing their own research. Then again, they had trouble figuring out how to properly submit amicus curiae briefs, so I guess incompetence is to be expected.

>>>>>> It should also be noted that, as a whole, the department has traditionally had about 80% of its tenured and tenure-track faculty receiving sponsored outside funding sometime in the previous 3 years. <<<<<<

>>>Again, where did you get this information? You are just talking through your hat.<<<

ISU publicly releases that information. Look here for links to the 2002-2003 through 2004-2005 reports.

>>>You are so full of crap that it is coming out your ears.<<<

Seems to me the only one around here who makes stuff up is you, Larry. Here's a novel idea, Larry. Try not lying and inventing laws that don't exist.

Thursday, June 07, 2007 1:27:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Voice said,
>>>>>> Bullshit -- lots of people told the ISU president their opinions about the appeal.<

People could stand outside a courthouse carrying signs saying "The End of the World is Near." but the judge or jury doesn't have to consider that in their deliberations. <<<<<<<

They don't have to consider outside influences -- but they can. That is why juries are sometimes sequestered -- to isolate them from outside influences. But the ISU president was not sequestered in this case.

W. Kevin Vicklund said...
>>>>>>Bullshit -- lots of people told the ISU president their opinions about the appeal.<

Opinions that the president is not allowed to consider. <<<<<<

See my above response to Voice.

>>>>>>It would be unfair to Gonzalez to delay the decision so that hypothetical opinions that can't be considered might have a chance to be aired. <<<<<

I am sure he is grateful.

>>>>>>WHAT? Why in hell does an outside grant have to be "sponsored" by ISU?<

An outside grant has to meet certain standards to be sponsored by ISU. <<<<<<<

I don't see what ISU sponsorship has to do with anything. Why should, say, a sponsored grant of $1000 count for more than an unsponsored grant of $1 billion?

>>>>>> But simply completing projects from your previous place of employment, projects directed by others, is not sufficient to demonstrate the ability to direct research projects on your own. <<<<<<

I don't get your point. Work on research projects directed by others can still be good original research.

>>>>> Since you are too bloody stupid to even remember what the hell you or I wrote, I guess I will have to be more specific:

The 2001-2004 NASA grant and the 2000-2003 book-writing grant pre-date his arrival at ISU. <<<<<<

And you are too bloody stupid to know that you provided no evidence that either grant pre-dated his arrival at ISU.

>>>>>>Grant money that is left over after his move to ISU should still be counted. <

It was already considered when he was offered the job. The probationary period is for new work, not old. <<<<<

Why shouldn't he get credit for all grant money that contributes to ISU?

>>>>>> The article correctly stated the amount of all of the ISU-supported grants he received. It was therefore correct. <<<<<<

The article did not say that there is a distinction between ISU sponsored grants and unsponsored grants. And the article did not mention the unsponsored grants. The unsponsored grants should count for something.

>>>>I see three options, Larry. Someone has hacked your blogger account, you are too bloody stupid to remember what you wrote, or you are a lying sack of shit. Which is it? <<<<<

Please don't get mad. I was focusing on the first (bold) part of your statement, "Larry brings up the issue of what was brought in by members of the astronomy research group, rather than the department as a whole," and thought that you were saying that I was the one who introduced the idea of looking at grants.

>>>The DI has been trying for days to get this information, so how in the hell did you get it? And how does that figure compare with the $1.3 million average claimed by the Des Moines Register article? <

As for why DI couldn't get it, I have no idea, other than they did bother doing their own research. <<<<<<

You are just talking through your hat again -- you don't have the information. Here is what DI said,

For the past two weeks, Discovery Institute has attempted to obtain data from Iowa State University (ISU) about the record of publications and grants of those considered for tenure by the university over the past several years. Unfortunately, ISU has thus far stonewalled these requests for information, even when submitted pursuant to Iowa's open records act.

UPDATE (12:45 pm): Within the hour of our posting of this story, we received a communication from ISU's university counsel that states: "We believe we can start sending some material to you early next week, but since we don't have most of the submissions from the departments yet, I don't know how long it will take to complete the process." Well, better late than never.


>>>>> Then again, they had trouble figuring out how to properly submit amicus curiae briefs, so I guess incompetence is to be expected. <<<<<<

As I remember, the DI made the minor error of not attaching to their amicus brief a request that the brief be accepted. As usual, you are making a mountain out of a molehill.

>>>> Seems to me the only one around here who makes stuff up is you, Larry. <<<<<<

Bullshit.

Friday, June 08, 2007 1:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

> I don't get your point. <

You rarely do.

> And you are too bloody stupid to know that you provided no evidence that either grant pre-dated his arrival at ISU. <

Since Kevin has nearly always provided evidence when challenged and has not been caught in any lies, we should assume that it is true for now.

You, in contrast usually just pull stuff out of your ass or take it from something that you have misinterpreted.

> As usual, you are making a mountain out of a molehill. <

Worrying about the tenure decision coming five days early is making a mountain out of a molehill.

> (I) thought that you were saying that I was the one who introduced the idea of looking at grants. <

No Larry. You didn't think. You rarely do.

Kevin said

> Seems to me the only one around here who makes stuff up is you, Larry. <

True!

Friday, June 08, 2007 10:41:00 AM  

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