"Intelligent design is overwhelmingly deemed by the scientific community as a religious belief and not a scientific theory. Therefore, intelligent design is not appropriate content for science courses," Jo Ann Gora wrote.

She wrote that more than 80 national and state scientific societies have said that intelligent design and creation science do not qualify as science. Such ideas can be taught in humanities or social science courses, she said, but must be discussed in comparison to other views and philosophical perspectives, each other, with no endorsement of one perspective over another.

"Our commitment to academic freedom is unflinching. However, it cannot be used as a shield to teach theories that have been rejected by the discipline under which a science course is taught. Our commitment to the best standards of each discipline being taught on this campus is equally unwavering," she wrote. "As I have said, this is an issue of academic integrity, not academic freedom."

The letter was criticized by the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based, proponent of intelligent design. Senior fellow John West called Gora's letter outrageous, saying academic freedom is designed to protect minority and dissenting views.