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KU News Release

Dec. 1, 2005
Contact: Lynn Bretz, University Relations (785) 864-8866.

Religious studies professor withdraws intelligent design class, cites controversy

LAWRENCE -- University of Kansas officials today approved religious studies department chair Paul Mirecki's request made last night to withdraw his course "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design and Creationism" from the spring semester class schedule.

Mirecki said continuing public controversy over his e-mails posted since 2003 on a Yahoo list-serv discussion board moderated by the student organization for which he served as faculty adviser persuaded him to withdraw and not teach the course. He said departmental faculty he had spoken with on Wednesday agreed.

" My concern is that students with a serious interest in this important subject matter would not be well served by the learning environment my e-mails and the public distribution of them have created. It would not be fair to the students," Mirecki said. "It was not my intent when I wrote the e-mails, but I understand now that these words have offended many on this campus and beyond, and for that I take full responsibility. I made a mistake in not leading by example, in this student organization e-mail forum, the importance of discussing differing viewpoints in a civil and respectful manner."

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor David Shulenburger issued the following statement in response:

" I granted Professor Mirecki's request and agree with his recognition that his actions had created an untenable situation. We still think the course itself not only has merit but is important and should be taught at some point.

" While the e-mails were unquestionably offensive, I know that Professor Mirecki regrets the situation he created. He has taught biblical studies and other religious studies courses here for 16 years and has an international reputation for his research. I hope this serious scholar will continue his work."

Twenty-five students had enrolled in the elective class in the week since it was listed.


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