Academic freedom at Ball State University: the case of Eric Hedin...

Error message

Ball State University is a state school in Muncie, a small town just north of Indianapolis. According to Indiana Public Media, Ball State administrators recently cancelled an honors physics and astronomy course taught by tenure-track prof Eric Hedin because Hedin's course syllabus included the concept of "Intelligent Design."

Ball State president Jo Ann Gora justified the cancellation to her faculty and staff:

Teaching intelligent design as a scientific theory is not a matter of academic freedom – it is an issue of academic integrity.


Ms. Gora should be rebuked by her peers at the next...

faculty senate meeting, then Ball State's trustees should fire her. Gora has failed to support the mission of a university to seek and teach truth.

It is laughable that, in such a politically volatile area as whether or not there is any first cause, Ms. Gora would, with a straight face, declare that a prof who teaches a first cause has taken an ax to "academic integrity" and is not worthy of the protections of "academic freedom."

If the scholars of Muncie cannot bring themselves to defend academic freedom, Governor Pence and our state legislators should flex our tax dollars. Note I said "our" tax dollars.

A state-funded upper tier administrator who refuses to allow a scholar-scientist to probe the frontiers of human knowledge back at the founding of the universe is unworthy of any leadership in any institution of higher education. Her leadership is inimical to the purpose of a university.

Inquiring minds find such leadership at best, boring; and at worst, stultifying and repressive.

Ball State Professor Eric Damien Kelly points out the negative impact President Gora's actions and justification will have on scholarship in Muncie:

Every pre-tenure faculty member and every contract faculty member – which is more than half the faculty – will be very nervous about what they teach...


Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!