Colo. Professor Vows to Fight Dismissal
Wednesday, July 25, 2007; 8:15 AM
BOULDER, Colo. -- A professor scorned for remarks about Sept. 11 victims vowed that his firing over allegations of plagiarism, falsification and other misconduct wouldn't end his 2 1/2-year dispute with the University of Colorado.
"New game, new game," said a defiant Ward Churchill, referring to his intent to sue the university after the state Board of Regents voted 8-1 Tuesday to remove him as ethnic studies chairman.
Three faculty committees had accused Churchill of plagiarism, falsification and other misconduct in portions of his research. The allegations were unrelated to an essay he wrote that likened some victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks to a Nazi leader.
David Lane, Churchill's attorney, said his client's dismissal simply marks a change in venue for the dispute.
"We're out of kangaroo court and going into real court," he said.
Lane plans to file a lawsuit in Denver Wednesday alleging Churchill's First Amendment rights were violated. He says Churchill was targeted because of his views.
University President Hank Brown said the school had little choice but to fire Churchill to protect the integrity of the university's research.
"I think from all the discussion I've heard, the focus on this question solely related to his research and the efforts to falsify research, and specifically, both the charges and the discussion did not relate to 9/11," Hank said.
Churchill had vowed to file a lawsuit if he was fired, a threat Brown said had no bearing on the decision.
The university's allegations against Churchill included misrepresenting the effects of federal laws on American Indians, fabricating evidence that the Army deliberately spread smallpox to Mandan Indians in 1837, and claiming the work of a Canadian environmental group as his own.
The essay that gained Churchill widespread scorn, "Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens," was not part of the investigation.
The essay and a follow-up book argued that the 2001 terrorist attacks were a response to a long history of U.S. abuses. Churchill said those killed in the World Trade Center collapse were "a technocratic corps at the very heart of America's global financial empire." He called them "little Eichmanns," referring to Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann.
Churchill wrote the piece shortly after the attacks, but it drew little notice until 2005, when a professor at Hamilton College in upstate New York called attention to it when Churchill was invited to speak there.
The Regents subsequently apologized to "all Americans" for the essay and the Colorado Legislature labeled Churchill's remarks "evil and inflammatory."
Bill Owens, then governor of Colorado, said Churchill should be fired, and George Pataki, then governor of New York, called Churchill a "bigoted terrorist supporter."
School officials concluded Churchill couldn't be dismissed because he was exercising his First Amendment rights. But they launched the investigation into his research in other work.
A faculty committee and an interim chancellor had recommended Churchill be fired. When a second committee reviewed the case, three of its five members recommended suspension. The other two said he should be fired.
Churchill remained on the university payroll but has been out of the classroom since the spring of 2006. The school relieved him of teaching duties after the interim chancellor recommended he be fired.