When the academic hiring process is exposed, so are the biases inherent in it. “An astronomy professor who sued the University of Kentucky after claiming he lost out on a top job because of his Christian beliefs reached a settlement Tuesday with the school,” Dylan Lovan wrote in an article which appeared on The Huffington Post on January 18, 2011. “The university agreed to pay $125,000 to Martin Gaskell in exchange for dropping a federal religious discrimination suit he filed in Lexington in 2009. A trial was set for next month.”
“Gaskell claimed he was passed over to be director of UK’s MacAdam Student Observatory because of his religion and statements that were perceived to be critical of evolution. Court records showed Gaskell was a front-runner for the job, but some professors called him ‘something close to a creationist’ and ‘potentially evangelical’ in interoffice e-mails to other university scientists.”
In other words, they didn’t know for a fact that he was, they just assumed it, not a sound scholarly practice anywhere in the academy. Yet even if they knew it for certain, the relevance to the hiring process is questionable, particularly given the benefit of the doubt that UK extends to other professors with less-than impeccable credentials.
Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.
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