Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Chancellor Calls For Churchill's Termination

The interim chancellor at the University of Colorado in Boulder announced in a press conference that Ward Churchill should be fired. "As part of my notice of dismissal we are also relieving Churchill from his duties as a faculty member on the Boulder campus including teaching research and service," said Phil DiStefano, CU's interim chancellor. Earlier this month, the faculty committee on research misconduct at CU recommended the termination of Churchill after they found the professor committed serious, repeated, deliberate research misconduct. Churchill was also accused of plagiarizing others' works, changing facts to suit his agenda and making things up. Early last year, Churchill wrote an essay comparing victims of September 11 to Nazis.
Ward Churchill
DiStefano said the essay is protected by free speech and the Churchill investigation should not affect other faculty member's willingness to write about controversial subjects. "As long as faculty members follow research guidelines, especially areas concerning plagiarism, fabrications and falsification, I think they will continue to write about controversial subjects," DiStefano said. "That's what the university is about." Churchill's attorney, David Lane argued that the essay had everything to do with the termination recommendation. "For the last year and a half we've been engaged in the sham process of looking for those better excuses to fire him," Lane said. "They now believe they have the better excuses and DiStefano has rubber stamped the committee and said 'fire him.'" DiStefano insisted he made the decision carefully after meeting with the dean of arts and sciences, Provost and Churchill himself.
Phil DiStefano
Lane disagreed. "Academic freedom is no longer respected at CU and the First Amendment is no longer respected at CU," Lane said. "That's what this means for CU." Churchill has 10 days to appeal the chancellor's decision to the faculty committee on privilege and tenure and Lane said they will. If it upholds DiStefano's recommendation, CU President Hank Brown and the Board of Regents would have to sign off on the firing. Churchill's attorney, David Layne, said they will sue for a First Amendment violation if that happens. He also said he's not surprised by the call for Churchill's dismissal.