University of Colorado Regents Expedite Tenure Removal Process--100 Days
Unlike the current firing procedure--a Ward Churchill soap opera lasting more than two years--future misconduct by a tenured professor will result in a process lasting approximately 100 days:
The University of Colorado Board of Regents on Thursday drastically shortened the amount of time it takes to fire a tenured professor, approving what CU officials believe to be one of the quickest faculty-dismissal timelines in the country.Churchill's legal representation is not amused by the rapid procedure:
Under the new timeline, the process will take about 100 days. In the past, it could take years for the university to fire a tenured professor for misconduct.
"This will be a model that other universities across the country will look to," Regent Stephen Ludwig said. "That's something we can be proud of."
The new timeline, as well as several other changes CU has made to its tenure processes, is due largely to the controversy surrounding CU-Boulder ethnic-studies professor Ward Churchill, who in an essay compared Sept. 11, 2001, victims to Nazis and who, after a lengthy investigation, was accused of plagiarizing, fabricating and falsifying material in his research and writings.
CU's chancellor at the time, Phil DiStefano, started the process to fire Churchill in June 2006. Churchill's case is still pending, two years after the initial review of his research was launched.
In the meantime, Churchill is on paid administrative leave and continuing to draw his $96,000 annual salary. "It should take as long as it takes to be fair," David Lane, Churchill's attorney, said of the new timeline. "You can't put a timeline on fairness. It's more politics from CU."The faculty, however, is on board with the change:
At their Thursday meeting, CU's regents passed the timeline changes unanimously and with little discussion.The University of Colorado can avoid much "human misery" by refusing to hire repugnant academic frauds like Churchill in the future.
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The 100-day timeline speeds up several steps in the process and eliminates a handful of others after the university president receives the hearing committee's report. Heckler said none of the other universities that the tenure committee studied have such a rapid timeline.
CU-Boulder English professor RL Widmann, the CU faculty- council chair, said university faculty have embraced the tenure changes as a way to improve the university. The speedier timeline received broad support at the council's Feb. 8 meeting, she said.
"These processes are agony for everybody," Widmann said of the firing procedures. "So if we can shorten the timelines, we can reduce the human misery involved."
Churchill has taken cover from the current procedure, a plodding minefield of endless committees and reviews passing the buck from one bureaucratic nightmare of red tape to another. Continuing to draw a hefty salary while not actually performing any duties typical of a professor--like teaching, for example. In a fast-paced world of constant news updates, two years seems glacial, and no doubt lessens the visibility of a case that was once the rage in the blogosphere and amongst the talking heads and public in general. A Churchill dismissal or absolution now will likely elicit little more than a statement of "good riddance" or a shrug of
Too bad changes like this are undertaken only after the university's reputation has been dragged through the mud and its credibility put through the ringer.