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Tenure Statistics Contradict Iowa State's Claim that "many good researchers have failed to satisfy the demands of earning tenure" at ISU

Iowa State University has attempted to defend its denial of tenure to widely-published pro-ID astronomer Guillmero Gonzalez by insisting earlier this week that tenure is hard to get at ISU. Indeed, according to a statement about the Gonzalez case posted on ISU's home page, tenure

is a high standard of excellence and achievement -- so high, that many good researchers have failed to satisfy the demands of earning tenure.

So just how "many" is "many"? Not very many, it turns out. We requested data from ISU on the number of tenure applications and rejections at the university for the past five years, and here is what we found out:


According to these figures, the tenure acceptance rate at ISU has been steadily climbing for the past five years, from a "low" (!) of 85% in 2003 to this year's acceptance rate of 91%.

Put another way, the rejection rate for tenure applications at ISU has fallen from 15% in 2003 to only 9% in 2007:


Are we really supposed to believe that a 91% acceptance rate for tenure applications at ISU represents such a "high standard of excellence and achievement... that many good researchers have failed to satisfy" it?! Or that a scientist like Dr. Gonzalez--who has published 350% more papers than needed to satisfy his own department's standard for research excellence--was somehow in the bottom 9% of tenure applicants this year?

Even if one looks at Dr. Gonzalez's own department, the 10-year approval rate of tenure applications is nearly 70% if one accepts data reported in The Des Moines Register yesterday. That is less than the university as a whole, but still very good odds of acceptance. Again, are we to believe that Dr. Gonzalez--whose work has been recognized in Science, Nature, Scientific American, and many other scientific publications--is in the bottom third of his department? I guess that's why his department uses in its courses the astronomy textbook he co-authored for Cambridge University Press last year.