Texas education officials have agreed to grant a creation college more time to prepare recently requested information about its graduate science degree programs.
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board said Tuesday that it will have to wait until April to decide whether Institute for Creation Research can offer its online master's degree in Science Education. The board was scheduled to decide on the group's application for approval next week following an advisory committee's recommendation, but objections arose from pro-evolution outlets.
The Christian school became the target of an "intensely negative campaign" by the press and the secular academic community, the group reported in an e-mail update.
Dr. Raymund Paredes, the state's higher education commissioner, called a meeting with the Institute for Creation Research last Thursday and requested that the group supply additional information to verify that the master's degree program was taught at a graduate level.
The creation institute said it was "glad" to.
Eddy Miller, dean of the institute's graduate school, sent an e-mail to the board on Monday, requesting more time on behalf of the school "to do justice to the concerns you raised," according to a news release issued by the coordinating board.
"ICR is pleased to respond to any effort to demonstrate its compliance and its competency in the fields that we teach," said Dr. Henry Morris, who founded the Institute for Creation Research in 1970.
"Our plans now are to prepare the extra material and provide the requested documentation in time for the April 2008 meeting of the THECB."
According to Inside Higher Ed, an online news source for higher education, Paredes has raised three concerns in the questions he asked the institute to address.
First, the commissioner asked how the institute would provide its students "proper exposure to the experimental side of science" since they would be learning online. He noted that it was a question he would ask of any online science program and wasn't related specifically with creationism. He also wanted the institute to either revise their curriculum or explain why it differed from those offered in conventional masters of science programs in Texas. The third request was for the institute to present material that show research activities underway and show them to be "based on solid scientific research."
Paredes said it was "not unusual" for him to raise questions after an initial review and approval, noting that people should not assume that the proposal is dead just because of the questions and the request for a delay.
"Because this is an issue that's controversial to a lot of people, we want to make sure we look at this matter thoroughly and fairly," he said, as reported by Inside Higher Ed.
The institute's proposal comes amid a fierce debate on how evolution should be taught in public schools.
Although the school has been offering science degrees in California since 1981, it had to reapply when it moved its headquarters to Dallas last year.
In the e-mail alert, ICR asked supporters to pray for the commissioner and their efforts in preparing its response material.