Bertell Ollman, the Marxist professor whose appointment as head of the University of Maryland's department of government and politics was overruled by the university's president last July, sued columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak for $6 million in libel damages yesterday.
The suit, filed in United States District Court here, charges that a column written by Evans and Novak contained statements "false both on their face and in their intended innuendo," that the column was written "with malice and with intent to injure" Ollman and that as a result of the column he was denied the Maryland position.
Ollman was offered the job of chairman of the department of government and political science by the university provost, Murray Polakoff, on March 15. In April, Acting Gov. Blair Lee III questioned Ollman's appointment, saying it could "kick up quite a backlash."
The suit says the column asserted that Ollman "is widely viewed in his profession as a political activist" and that Ollman's "candid writings avow his desire to use the classroom as an instrumeent for preparing what he calls the 'revolution.'"
Ollman asked for $1 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages. Evans, reached by telephone, said he had not seen the suit and declined to comment.