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KU News Release

November 28, 2005
Contact: Lynn Bretz, University Relations, (785) 864-8866.

Departmental faculty approve intelligent design course; professor issues apology

LAWRENCE -- In a meeting today, faculty members of the University of Kansas Department of Religious Studies formally approved a spring semester elective course on intelligent design called "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design and Creationism."

In KU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, special topic, elective courses must be approved by departmental faculty. Courses that are required for a degree, however, must be approved by the college's governing body, which is composed of faculty and students.

" Given the current national debate, it is especially appropriate that intelligent design and creationism be treated as academic subjects in a university-level religious studies class," said Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor David Shulenburger.

The 3-credit-hour class will be a 600-level course, open to upperclass undergraduate students and graduate students. The course description, reading list and syllabus will be released publicly before classes start Jan. 20, 2006. Plans also call for making the course lectures available through the Internet.
The professor for the course, Paul Mirecki, an associate professor of religious studies, issued an apology today for an e-mail he sent earlier to a listserv as he was formulating plans for the course.

The full text of Professor Mirecki's apology:
" I accept full responsibility for an ill-advised email I sent to a small group of students and friends that has unintentionally impugned the integrity and good name of both the university and my faculty colleagues. My words were offensive, and I apologize to all for that.

" I especially regret that the email betrays what I have consistently practiced in the classroom during my sixteen-year teaching career at KU: I believe that civil discourse is vital to a democratic society, and we must, especially in a university environment, be able to discuss differing points of view in a open, fair and civil fashion. I have always practiced my belief that there is no place for impertinence and name calling in a serious academic class. My words in the email do not represent my teaching philosophy or the style I use in class.

" I have assured the provost of the university that I will teach the course according to the standards this university rightfully expects -- as a serious academic subject and in an manner that respects all points of view."

Mirecki joined the KU faculty in 1989 and is chair of religious studies. He has a doctor of theology degree from Harvard University and is an expert in ancient Mediterranean cultures, languages and religions. He and a colleague found an ancient 5th-century manuscript in 1991 in Berlin's vast Egyptian Museum and verified it as an authentic early account of the teachings of Jesus ("The Gospel of the Savior"). The text is written in the ancient Egyptian language called Coptic and offered previously unknown conversations between Jesus and his disciples.


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