Ball State Imbroglio: Jo Ann Gora Will Resign

You are probably familiar with the intelligent design problem Indiana’s Ball State University has been having, which is summarized in this earlier post: Ball State Imbroglio Update — 03 Oct 2013.

Today there’s an unexpected devevelopment reported in the News-Sentinel of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Their headline is Ball State president plans to retire. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Ball State President Jo Ann Gora informed the board of trustees Friday that she will retire at the end of June. “This year will be my 10th as president at Ball State but my 40 in higher education,” Gora said in a news release from the university. “It has been a rewarding and fulfilling career, especially these years in Indiana.”

The ten year milestone is a reasonable time to resign. But what effect will this have on the situation we’ve been watching? We’ll skip over the glowing account of Gora’s tenure as president and get to the part that interests us:

The 18,000-student university was involved in a series of religion-based flaps over the summer. Ball State was criticized in July for hiring astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez, who wrote a book arguing that the conditions that produced life on Earth suggest an intelligent design. Believers say the theory is based on scientific evidence that suggests the universe and evolution couldn’t have developed by chance and that supernatural forces were at play. Gora notified the Discovery Institute think tank that complained that it would review its “Dangerous Ideas” class in a letter sent Sept. 30. The hiring came after another professor at the school was accused of teaching creationism.

We already know that. Are there any new developments? No. The story ends by saying that the trustees are beginning a search for Gora’s successor. Nothing more is said about the creationism controversy.

What are we to make of this? Is resigning Gora’s idea, unrelated to the issue we’re following — which is still unresolved — or was she gently persuaded to go for allowing the creationism problems to develop? We have no idea.

The Discoveroids had attempted to launch a letter-writing campaign to pressure the Ball State trustees to be tolerant of creationism, which we reported here: Discoveroids Increase Pressure on Ball State. Even if the Discoveroids’ campaign had no effect, they’ll try to claim credit for Gora’s departure. We’ll have to keep watching to see how things work out.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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14 responses to “Ball State Imbroglio: Jo Ann Gora Will Resign

  1. I certainly hope she wasn’t forced out by those creeps! And I’m not even sure “those” would be Discoveroids in Seattle, but perhaps fundamentalist cretins in Indiana pulling strings. That would be chilling.

  2. “was she gently persuaded to go for allowing the creationism problems to develop?”

    That’s EXTREMELY unlikely. The creationism thing was just a blip compared to all the major things a college president deals with — major donors, long-term campus building plans, strategic plans for teaching & research programs, miscellaneous drama of all sorts (the creationism thing is unusual only in that it got into the news), yadda yadda. 40 years is a good long academic career, and 10 years as president is I’m pretty sure longer than average.

  3. You’re quite right, Nick, but that won’t stop the IDiots from crowing about their ‘success’ in driving her out of office, nor will it prevent their using her resignation for fundraising. They’re basically pretty despicable liars at heart.

  4. One of the major donors donated millions for the construction of a new planetarium. I wonder what his proclivities are

  5. Rikki_Tikki_Taalik

    Interesting you should bring that up M’Lady as I had the same thought. I just came back from poking around a bit and I found something, well, interesting. I was looking to see if I could find out who BSU’s larger donors are and came across this website …

    MillionDollarList – Recipients – Ball State University

    If you scroll down just a bit you’ll see that By Far the largest donor over the last decade or so is Lilly Endowment Inc. with 13 gifts totalling $87.07 Million.

    Who is Lilly Endowment Inc. ? A snippet of their Wikipedia page says …

    “The foundation has historically had three primary areas of grantmaking: community development, education and religion. Lilly Endowment is unique in that it is the largest private foundation in the United States that funds almost exclusively in its home city and state and one of few major foundations to fund religion.”

    It goes on to list a small sample of their recipients. Now to be honest I couldn’t find anything mentioning ID or even BSU while perusing the Lilly Endowment site itself or the rabbit hole of websites one can go down when viewing the “education” and “religion” tabs on the Lilly Endowment homepage. You can also click on “The Endowment” tab gives you a list of the board and officers in case any names ring anyone’s bell. I also found details on a few of the donations to BSU in the form of announcements but they looked pretty straight forward to my eye. But, I was amazed at how many things they had a finger in.

    As an aside, that first link in this comment, the milliondollarlist website ? It’s run by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. I saw no direct connection between them and the Endowment whilst browsing, but … *shrugs*

  6. Rikki_Tikki_Taalik

    M’Lady,

    It appears the funds for the planetarium came from the state.

    Ball State gets state money for planetarium, greenhouse, more campus work

  7. Rikki_Tikki_Taalik

    Probably some six-degrees here but …

    John Wohlstetter, Discovery Institute Senior Fellow (Technology and Democracy) was at one time a trustee for the Hudson Institute since 2000, which is heavily funded by guess who ? Yup, the Lilly Endowment. As the Wiki page for the Lilly Endowment states …

    “The Hudson Institute, a conservative non-profit think tank is also a large recipient of funds from the Lilly Endowment.”

    I also came across a Hudson Institute event notice from 2005 Is the European Union in the Interest of the United States? Among the speakers at the event …

    Stephen C. Meyer, Ph.D.- Senior Fellow, Discovery Institute
    Mark Ryland – Vice President, Discovery Institute
    Kenneth R. Weinstein, Ph.D. – Chief Executive Officer, Hudson Institute
    Judge Robert H. Bork – Distinguished Fellow, Hudson Institute
    Diana Furchtgott-Roth – Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute

    … as well as a couple of people from The Heritage Foundation. It’s a small world after all.

  8. And all-too-often (c’mon guys & gals, sing with me!):

    It’s a small-minded world, after all!

  9. The planetarium was approved by the state but it is funded by private donations, including $2.2 million from Charles Brown, for whom it is named.

  10. Hmmm, a good conspiracy theory might be that strings were pulled through these connections in the hiring of Guillermo Gonzalez.

  11. It will be interesting to see who replaces Gora, and the stand (if any) they take on the issue. I think that’s where any potential influence will show.

    @Curmie Better mark that down on your calendar for a follow-up.

  12. No doubt Gora’s direct statement that intelligent design had no place in a science course ruffled some influential feathers, without doubt including Governor Mike Pence (a very influential feather).

    Whether her strong stand led directly to her “retirement” we will have no way of knowing unless she chooses to make a statement.

  13. retiredsciguy says: “Whether her strong stand led directly to her “retirement” we will have no way of knowing unless she chooses to make a statement.”

    We’ll know by how the creationists on the faculty behave.

  14. Jeepers! As per our Curmudgeon’s prediction, the Discoveroids are claiming Gora’s scalp–well, in what passes for their attempt at humour. See DI blog of 29 Oct: The Catty Dr. Coyne:

    Chalk up another one for the hidden hand of Discovery Institute. Through a pernicious web of connections in Indiana, including the Eli Lilly Foundation, we apparently persuaded the trustees of Ball State University in Muncie to show the door to President Jo Ann Gora. At least that is the fear of Professor Jerry Coyne of the University of Chicago, noted blogologist and rather-less-noted biologist.

    The Discoveroids really shouldn’t attempt irony or satire, their ‘serious’ stuff is sufficiently self-satirising….