ICR Graduate School
|ICR Graduate School|
DescriptionEl Cajon and then Santee, California, was until recently accredited by the Trans-national Association of Christian Colleges and Schools through the Federal Department of Education. It is now located in Dallas, Texas, and is seeking formal accreditation from that State's Higher Education Co-ordinating Board. It offers M.S. degree programs in the fields of Astro/Geophysics, Biology, Geology, and Science Education. Its programs include traditional classroom instruction and distance-learning courses.
ICR founded its graduate school in 1981. The school quickly won accreditation from the California Department of Education and began its course offerings immediately.
In 2006, at the original urging of Henry Morris II, ICR's founder, ICR approved and set in motion a plan to relocate most of its operations, including the school, to Texas. ICR's stated reasons for the move are threefold:
- High cost-of-living in California and especially the cost of housing. Living expenses in northern Texas are much less.
- Desire for a more-central location with respect to ICR's national and international donor base and speaking engagements.
- Likelihood of a higher level of community support in northern Texas than in southern California.
The Graduate School has twice had difficulty in gaining accreditation from administrations hostile to the school's creationist views.
Accreditation in California
Almost from the day that ICR first won its degree-granting authority in California, a number of anticreation groups launched a propaganda campaign to have ICR's accreditation revoked. To accomplish this, the detractors made a number of dubious accusations, which included an allegation that the examining committee that recommended ICR's initial approval was composed of "ringers, shills, and plants."
In 1986 the California legislature changed its accreditation requirements and required all degree-granting institutions to re-apply for accreditation. But in addition to a new law, the California Department of Education had a new superintendent, William Honig. Honig sent a second review committee to the school in 1988. At first this committee voted 3-2 to approve re-accreditation. But Honig wouldn't accept that, and persuaded one member of the committee to change his vote. Bennetta insists that the initial (1981) inspection was a sham, and that at least two of the committeemen who cast the favorable votes in 1988 were, in his words, "ringers"—a charge that Bergman rejects out-of-hand.
In any event, Mr. Honig insisted that any school seeking accreditation in California would teach naturalistic evolution and only naturalistic evolution. ICR offered a compromise of teaching at least as much about the theory of evolution as any secular school would, but this did not satisfy Mr. Honig. Yet another five-member team of site visitors came to the school in August 1989, and they voted four to one to deny the ICR Graduate School the right to operate. Mr. Honig stated as the reason for the denial the continued teaching of creationism at the school.
ICR sued the State in US District Court in 1990 following this announcement. Several members of the California legislature took exception to the State's action and even recommended that several civil-rights organizations formally investigate. In addition, several national and international scientists also voiced disapproval of the decision.
Shortly before the case was to come to trial, the California Department of Education abruptly settled with ICR and the school. The school was now approved to operate without restriction, and indeed the State now paid the school $225,000 US to cover its court costs. The approval was set to expire in 1995, but by then the State had recognized the Trans-national Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS) as a legitimate accrediting agency, and separate State approval was now unnecessary.
Accreditation in Texas
The Texas relocation requires the school once again to seek formal State accreditation, because Texas does not recognize TRACS as an accrediting agency. The school passed one initial site evaluation. Subsequent to this, the Texas Higher Education Co-ordinating Board received 230 e-mails from interested parties. A review of the e-mails by ICR staff reveals that 177 individuals sent e-mails in support of ICR's application, while 36 individuals sent a total of 43 e-mails expressing opposition.
Nevertheless, Commissioner of Higher Education Raymundo Paredes began distancing himself from the ICR application almost at once in his public commentaries. In fact, he convened a separate panel of scientists and science teachers and from them obtained a recommendation against the School. No one from the School was allowed even to make a presentation to this separate panel.
On April 23, 2008, the THECB's Academic Excellence and Research Committee held an unusual thirty-minute "public hearing" (actually a request-for-public-comment) with ten three-minute slots for interested witnesses. Following that hearing, the AERC voted unanimously to deny the ICR Graduate School's application.
The next day, Commissioner Paredes formally recommended that the full Board deny the application, which the Board promptly did. In the same day, Mr. Joe Stafford, Assistant Commissioner for Academic Affairs and Research, read for the record portions of a Texas statute expressing an objective to "prevent public deception in the face of 'fraudulent' or 'substandard' college and university degrees." As with Mr. Paredes' "separate panel," ICR staff had no opportunity to respond to the obvious implied accusation of fraud that Assistant Commissioner Stafford had just leveled against the School.
As of May 4, 2008, Dr. Morris is considering his options, which include:
- An administrative appeal.
- Recasting and resubmitting his proposal.
- Suing the State of Texas.
In his press release that he issued after the Board's April 24 decision, Dr. Morris called attention to some questionable procedures by Commissioner Paredes, Assistant Commissioner Stafford, the Board, and its committees. As of May 4, 2008, Dr. Morris had not said publicly which of his three options he would pursue. But on May 4 he placed a full-page advertisement in local newspapers all over Texas, calling attention to the THECB action and to the larger issue of whether "all scientists must believe in evolution."
- Morris, John D. "Moving God's Way." Institute for Creation Research, October, 2007. Accessed March 19, 2008.
- Bergman, Jerry. "The Religion of Vague: An Unsuccessful Attempt by the State of California to Close a College." Revolution Against Evolution, May 22, 2003. Accessed March 19, 2008.
- Schafersman, Steven. "The Institute for Creation Research and It's (sic) Quest for Official Texas Certification to Award Masters Degrees in Science Education." Texas Citizens for Science, December 17, 2007; updated January 6 and January 28, 2008. Accessed March 19, 2008.
- Bennetta, William. "Degrees of Folly." BASIS, February 1989 and following. Hosted by Texas Citizens for Science. Accessed March 19, 2008.
- Hacker, Holly K. "Creation college seeks state's OK to train teachers." Dallas Morning News, December 15, 2007. Accessed March 19, 2007.
- Morris, Henry M., III. E-mail to supporters dated April 17, 2008; received April 18, 2008, at 0844 UTC.
- Morris, Henry M., III. Press release issued April 25, 2008, from ICR's offices, Dallas, Texas.
- Telephone interview with ICR (Dallas, TX) staff conducted March 19, 2008.
- Haurwitz, Ralph K. M. "Creation institute's proposal rejected by panel." Austin American-Statesman, April 24, 2008. Accessed April 24, 2008.