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New Disclosures in Baylor Tenure Scandal

The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required) has disclosed new information in the continuing scandal over Baylor University's denial of tenure to gifted conservative scholar Francis Beckwith (a Discovery Institute Fellow). According to the Chronicle, Beckwith alleges that his former department chair, Derek Davis, worked to undermine his tenure application. But now it turns out that Davis himself "resigned under a cloud" because of charges that he plagiarized another scholar's work:

Mr. Davis... resigned from the university at the end of the spring semester following allegations that he neglected to properly cite sources for two of his articles. In one case, Mr. Davis closely paraphrased passages from a 1986 book by Ronald L. Numbers, a professor of the history of science and of medicine at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Mr. Davis acknowledges the improper citation, calling it "human error," not plagiarism. Mr. Numbers, who notified Baylor officials about the passages and later exchanged e-mail messages with Mr. Davis, says he is not satisfied with that explanation.

If it's true that Davis helped push for Beckwith's denial of tenure, then the whole tenure process at Baylor is tainted. Beckwith has appealed his tenure denial, but Baylor president John Lilley has been sitting on the appeal for months. The Chronicle reports that a decision is now promised "this month."

In the meantime, a sense of outrage is apparently building among some of Beckwith's colleagues, who believe Beckwith was shafted because of his conservative views, including his defense of the constitutionality of intelligent design. According to the Chronicle,

C. Stephen Evans, a professor of philosophy and humanities, says he will consider resigning if the decision is not reversed. Mr. Evans, who calls himself a liberal democrat, says Mr. Beckwith is being "railroaded for his conservative views, even though he clearly merits tenure on the basis of his scholarly work and teaching."

Given that Baylor's president John Lilley is apparently about to make his decision regarding Beckwith's appeal, those who want stand up for Beckwith's academic freedom might consider weighing in with an e-mail to Dr. Lilley at John_Lilley@baylor.edu. Alumni, donors, and parents of potential Baylor students are particularly important voices for the Baylor administration to hear right now.