Thursday, July 24, 2008

IDURC Announces 2008 Casey Luskin Graduate Award

Monday, July 14, 2008:

The Intelligent Design Undergraduate Research Center (IDURC) is proud to present the 2008 Casey Luskin Graduate Award, presented annually to a deserving college graduate for excellence in student advocacy of intelligent design.

The recipient of the 2008 Casey Luskin Graduate Award will remain anonymous for the protection of the recipient. The many students, professors, and scientists who have been denied degrees or tenure and removed from positions and jobs for no other reason than acceptance of—or even sympathy to—intelligent design theory is very telling of the importance of keeping these bright young minds out of the crosshairs of those opposed to open-minded investigation and critical thought.

The recipient of this year’s award is a graduate earning a degree in history. This student has demonstrated great courage in promoting intelligent design and academic freedom, working previously with the IDURC and also serving as an IDEA Club president. The recipient will receive a certificate of achievement, a $100 award, and an autographed copy of Dr. Michael J. Behe’s newest book, The Edge of Evolution: the Search for the Limits of Darwinism.

The Casey Luskin Graduate Award was established in 2005 and in 2007 its name was changed from the “IDURC Graduate Award” to the “Casey Luskin Graduate Award.” The award is named for Mr. Casey Luskin, a graduate of the University of California at San Diego, who was the first student truly to step out of his comfort zone as an undergrad and take a stand for intelligent design—a stand that would be seen across the nation. His founding of the Intelligent Design Evolution Awareness (IDEA) Center has been a great step forward for the intelligent design movement and, more importantly, for academic freedom everywhere. Today, Luskin continues his work with the ID movement as a lawyer and legal analyst for the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture in Seattle, Washington. Students everywhere today are indebted to the work that Luskin has done.

Each July, the IDURC will present the Casey Luskin Graduate Award to an outstanding student who has just completed his or her undergraduate degree and has demonstrated exemplary dedication to both the rigorous investigation and the widespread promotion of intelligent design. This year’s recipient joins the recipients from past years, since the award was initiated in 2005, in demonstrating such excellence.

Much thanks needs to be given to the board of directors at the IDURC for their work in preparing this year’s award and for their efforts year round. A very heartfelt thank you also goes to Dr. Michael J. Behe of Lehigh University for his support of the work we do at the IDURC and for his autographing and inscribing The Edge of Evolution for this award.

As always, I must thank Mr. Dennis Wagner and Access Research Network for the donation of the $100 prize money and for their continuous and generous financial support of the IDURC.

Most sincerely,

Samuel S. Chen
Intelligent Design Undergraduate Research Center

Baylor University Fires President John M. Lilley

After just two-and-a-half of this five-year contract, Baylor University President John M. Lilley will no longer be at the reins of the school.

The Baylor University Board of Regents decided this morning to fire President Lilley. The plan was a gradual phase out, with the new president being instated in January 2009. President Lilley has rejected that plan and so a search for a new president will begin immediately.

This news comes on the heels of Provost Randall O'Brien's departure from Baylor to become the 22nd president of Carson-Newman College in Tennessee.

John M. Lilley was the 13th president of Baylor University, being elected unanimously by the Board of Regents in 2005. He took over for current Mercer University president William Underwood, who was the interim between Lilley and current Houston Baptist University president Robert B. Sloan, Jr. Lilley was formerly the university president at University of Nevada at Reno and at Penn State University at Erie.

Lilley was brought to Baylor to help the university reach its goal of a $2 billion endowment by the year 2012. Lilley was instrumental in helping the university reach the half-way milestone last year. However, other positions that Lilley took—-including recent issues with the shutting down of Dr. Robert Marks’ Evolutionary Informatics Lab and the denial of tenure to 12 or 30 professors in 2008—-put him at odds with both the university’s Faculty Senate and Board of Regents.

Baylor University named Regent Harold Cunningham the Acting President until an Interim President could be appointed.

For more information on President John Lilley’s removal, go here.
For information on Provost Randall O’Brien’s leaving, go here.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Jindal Signs Louisiana Science Education Bill

Earlier this year, the Louisiana State House of Representatives passed the Louisiana Science Education Bill by an overwhelming vote of 93-4. The State Senate recently followed up that action by passing unanimously 35-0. This past week, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed the bill into law.

What exactly is the Louisiana Science Education Act? This law allows for the following:

  • Upon the request of a local school board, Louisiana’s State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is to

…allow and assist teachers, principals, and other school administrators to create and foster an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that promotes critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.

  • Teachers are permitted, if authorized by the school board, to "…use supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner."
  • Teachers are required to first "…teach the material presented in the standard textbook supplied by the school system."
  • Louisiana’s State Board of Education reserves the right to veto any supplemental materials they deem as inappropriate.
  • The inclusion of religion is not permitted under this law. Section 1D of the act states that it:

…shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or non-religion.

This law is long overdue. It appropriately does not mention intelligent design, creationism, the Bible, etc. but it merely calls for the freedom to think critically and dialogue on a very important, yet often misunderstood, issue. This act protects teachers from the harassment that often comes when the subject of evolution is broached. The act also provides legal clarity on the issue of teaching controversial issues such as, but not limited to, evolution.

Yet, as to be expected, there are opponents of this new law. The New York Times referred to it as "retrograde" and an "assault on Darwin." Others have vowed to watch the enactment of this law like the hawk. All this because the evolution lobby fears what academic freedom and critical thinking might do to our students.

Their opposition, however, apparently isn't supported by the people of Louisiana. With bipartisan support for this bill, only four state representatives voted against it. Furthermore, Jindal currently has a 77% approval rating in the state.

A round of applause, please, for Governor Jindal and the Louisiana State Legislature.