Dembski himself was at odds with some faculty members over Intelligent Design, a scientific theory that says certain patterns in nature are best explained as the product of intelligence rather than random material forces. In 2000, he was removed from his post as director of Baylor's Michael Polanyi Center for Complexity, Information, and Design after refusing to rescind a statement he made supporting Intelligent Design as a legitimate form of academic inquiry.
That's not what happened. Here's the correct narrative, as I tell it in my review of the revised edition of Ronald Numbers' The Creationists, forthcoming in the Journal of Law & Religion 23.2 (2007-08). (You can find the review online here):
...Numbers tells the story of the immensely gifted William A. Dembski, an ID advocate who holds PhDs in mathematics (U. of Chicago) and philosophy (U. of Illinois, Chicago) and has published an academic monograph with Cambridge University Press, The Design Inference, an extended argument on how one might go about detecting design. (384-386) Because this story concerns my home institution, Baylor University, I feel obligated to offer clarity to Numbers’s largely accurate account.
In 1999 Dembski was hired by Baylor’s then-president, Robert B. Sloan, to direct a center on religion and science that would be housed in the university’s Institute for Faith & Learning. Calling it the Michael Polanyi Center (MPC), Dembski’s hiring and center—which had initially gone unnoticed on campus—drew the negative attention of science faculty in early 2000 when links to the MPC were found on Creationist web sites.
In order to address concerns raised by MPC critics on the Baylor faculty, the administration put together a review committee consisting of mostly outside scholars of impeccable credentials in areas of scholarship relevant to assessing Dembski’s project. Numbers writes:Although the committee recommended against continuing the center, it found no reason to quarantine advocates of intelligent design. Dembski initially praised the committee for making “the triumph of intelligent design as a legitimate form of academic inquiry,” but the president soon relieved Dembski of his position as director and ultimately closed the center. (385-386)
This is not quite right.
The committee’s final report (October 17, 2000) in fact recommended support for the center (albeit with an expanded focus) and concluded that Dembski’s scholarship is a legitimate area of academic inquiry. However, it recommended that the name “Michael Polanyi” be removed from the center. In response to the report, Dembski issued a press release (October 17, 2000) in which he praised the administration and the committee. He also made this statement:Dogmatic opponents of design who demanded the Center be shut down have met their Waterloo. Baylor University is to be commended for remaining strong in the face of intolerant assaults on freedom of thought and expression.
Instead of offering an olive branch and conciliatory tone at the moment of victory, Dembski angered many faculty members and embarrassed his benefactors and supporters at Baylor. Nevertheless, the administration gave Dembski a chance to extricate himself from his imprudent epistle. He was asked to offer a public apology. He refused. It was at that point that the university dismissed Dembski as MPC director. In short, Dembski snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory.