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MU Faculty Coucil Condemns Intelligent Design Bill

Friday, April 16, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:36 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

The MU Faculty Council passed a resolution Thursday asking state lawmakers to reject a bill that would require theories of intelligent design and natural selection to be given "equal treatment" in classrooms.

Associate professor of nursing Eileen Porter was the only member of the council who voted against the resolution condemning House Bill 1722.

Porter said she wasn't convinced teaching intelligent design would interfere with students' studies. She also said the council shouldn't voice its disapproval of a bill that is not likely to pass.

But biochemistry professor Frank Schmidt said the resolution is important because sponsors of the bill say they will keep trying to pass similar bills if HB 1722 fails.

"Is it best to let a sleeping dog lie, or is it better to make sure he's not sleeping on the front porch?" Schmidt asked.

HB 1722 was introduced April 7 and is nearly identical to House Bill 911, which was introduced earlier this year. Unlike HB 911, though, the latest bill does not state that teachers and school administrators can be fired for not complying with the bill.

The council also held elections for chair and vice-chair at the meeting Thursday. Gordon Christensen, a professor of medicine, was re-elected as chairman, while Schmidt replaced Porter as vice-chair.

Council members also heard a report from a task force formed to audit faculty grievance procedures. The task force, appointed in December, studied records of 26 grievances lodged between June 1, 1997, and June 30, 2002.

The report showed faculty members filed a much smaller number of official grievances than had been expected. It also showed most of the grievance procedures lasted far longer than they were supposed to. The task force found the average procedure took 454.4 days - grievances are supposed to be resolved within 180 days.

Christensen said he appreciated that the MU chancellor's office allowed the task force to go ahead with its work, even though they found several faults with the grievance system.

"This was a gutsy decision by the chancellor ... to let dirty laundry be aired so openly," Christensen said.

The council also approved a ballot initiative to ask the UM system Board of Curators to make several changes to the faculty grievance process, including appointing an investigating officer to oversee grievance procedures.

The MU Faculty Council is an elected organization that represents faculty members to the university administration and the general public. According to the MU Web site, the council is "an important reflection of faculty thought."


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