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College instructor who refused to teach evolution as fact is dismissed!

April 29, 2000

As reported two months ago on this website, a popular college biology instructor was in danger of losing his job because he refused to teach evolution as fact to his science classes at Central Oregon Community College (COCC).

Dr. Kevin Haley told us that in his classrooms he criticized the theory of evolution by pointing out its difficulties. Nevertheless, this method of instruction led his dean to decide not to renew his contract for the next academic year. The dean’s letter to Dr. Haley, however, was not specific at all in its reasons for his dismissal.

In an editorial entitled “COCC should come clean,” the local newspaper The Bulletin harshly criticized the college for letting Dr. Haley go without a full explanation:

“We are more concerned with the administration’s refusal to discuss the subject publicly. Though Oregon law generally shields employment records from public scrutiny, public agencies may release them if doing so serves the public good. Given that Haley has been open about the situation, the college’s continuing refusal to treat the matter with equal openness does not sit well, and, in fact, its public stonewalling of the subject makes it appear as if the administration has something to hide.”

One of Dr. Haley’s students had filed a formal complaint with the dean that, even though Dr. Haley never taught creation, he implied it because he criticized evolution theory. Dr. Haley candidly admitted that he was pleased when a student would consider creation as a possible alternative explanation for the origin of life, but he told us that he never taught the creationist view.

Dr. Haley told us that he will not take legal action against the college, but added that he did absolutely nothing wrong.

Dr. Haley, who holds a Ph.D. in biology from Purdue University, had been teaching science at COCC in Bend, Oregon since 1996. His former department chairman called Dr. Haley “an excellent teacher.” In evaluations written by his students (copies were obtained by our ministry), it appears that he was one of the most popular—as well as challenging—instructors at the college.

We find it absolutely amazing that a highly qualified biology instructor can lose his college position simply because he does not teach evolution dogmatically—and does not even bring up creationism in his classes! Where is the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and some of the other liberal civil rights organizations that should be defending his academic freedom? Here is a highly credentialed, well-respected instructor at the college level who was careful not to let his Christian beliefs enter his lectures, but who simply wanted to encourage his students to think critically about the controversial topic of evolution.

Dr. Haley is now job hunting.


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