KU provost says ID course needed

Kansas University’s No. 2 official told an online audience Thursday he “continues to support the need” for KU to teach a course on intelligent design.

“The decision to withdraw the course was made by Professor (Paul) Mirecki, not by the university,” KU Provost David Shulenburger said during a chat on the Journal-World’s Web site.

Shulenburger, who will step down as provost to return to teaching in June, responded to several questions about Mirecki’s intelligent design course.

Advocates of intelligent design see it as an alternative scientific theory to evolution, but the course would have been taught as a religious studies course, rather than as science.

Mirecki decided to cancel the class after he came under fire for derisive remarks he made on an online discussion board.

“Courses are not scheduled by the university but by faculty through departments. When departments wish to offer such courses they will,” Shulenburger wrote during the online chat.

Mirecki, a tenured professor, announced Wednesday he would step down as chairman of the religious studies department after reporting a roadside beating Monday morning.

“Professor Mirecki’s letter of resignation indicated that the faculty of the Department of Religious Studies preferred that (he) step down as chair of the department,” Shulenburger wrote.

Shulenburger also wrote that he supported “our faculty teaching courses on difficult or controversial topics.”

However, Shulenburger wrote, “as e-mails of Professor Mirecki that came out later indicated that his ability to teach the course in an unbiased fashion came to light, I continued to support the need for the course to be taught but agreed with Professor Mirecki’s conclusion that he should not teach the course.”

KU’s provost also touched on several other topics, including KU’s decision to hold classes Thursday despite the snow and on efforts KU is making for more students to graduate within four years.

The full transcript is available at www2.ljworld.com/news/chats/newsmakers/.