Trustees | Intellectual Diversity

Ward Churchill Could Learn Fate In 3 Weeks

ASSOCIATED PRESS   |  May 9, 2007

A University of Colorado professor who once compared some Sept. 11 victims to a Nazi could learn within three weeks whether he can return to the classroom–or whether the university will pursue sanctions including dismissal.

University President Hank Brown received a report Tuesday from a faculty committee regarding its hearing on alleged research misconduct by ethnic studies professor Ward Churchill.

Brown has 15 business days to determine how to proceed, the university said. If Brown decides the are no grounds for dismissal, he could return Churchill to the classroom and close the case, or he could recommend sanctions such as suspension, school spokeswoman Michele McKinney said.

The Privilege and Tenure Committee’s report was not publicly released because it was considered a personnel matter, McKinney said. When reached by phone, Churchill declined to discuss its contents but called it “a mixed bag.”

Churchill contended Brown is biased and should recuse himself, citing Brown’s work on the American Council of Trustees and Alumni whose leaders have called Churchill’s statements outrageous but have defended his right to free speech and due process.

The Washington-based education group also issued a report titled “How Many Ward Churchills?” which questioned how faculty like Churchill could be objective in the classroom.

McKinney said Brown years ago served on a non-paid advisory committee for the group and he had no role in the report, and had not seen a copy.

“It would be inappropriate for the president to comment on personnel matters while they are under review,” McKinney said in regards to Brown recusing himself.

When asked whether he wanted to return to a CU classroom, Churchill said: “That’s neither here nor there. I have a right to return. I don’t negotiate my rights and I don’t forfeit my rights.”

A faculty committee and an interim chancellor of the Boulder campus already have recommended that Churchill be fired, saying he misrepresented the effects of federal laws on American Indians, that he wrongly claimed evidence indicated Capt. John Smith exposed Indians to smallpox in the 1600s, and claimed the work of a Canadian environmental group as his own.

Churchill then requested the review by the Privilege and Tenure Committee.

Churchill ignited a furious controversy with a 2001 essay written in the hours after the terrorist attacks that compared some of the World Trade Center victims to Adolf Eichmann, a key planner of the Holocaust. The essay attracted little attention until January 2005, when it surfaced after he was invited to speak at Hamilton College in upstate New York.

Two governors and several others called for his dismissal.

The university concluded he could not be fired for those remarks but launched an investigation into allegations of research misconduct.

Churchill’s fate may remain in limbo if Brown determines there are grounds for dismissal and the hearing panel did not. If the hearing panel did not concur, the president would return the case to the panel for reconsideration with his comments. The panel would then have 15 days to issue a second report.

At the end of a series of steps, if the Board of Regents receives a recommendation of dismissal from Brown, Churchill would be given a chance to respond.

Churchill also could request a hearing before the regents, whose decision would be final.


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