April 06, 2007

CU Boulder Colloquium--"Re-examining The Academic Case Against Ward Churchill"

In the email, this invitation to attend a lecture exonerating Ward Churchill:
Re-examining the Academic Case Against Ward Churchill

7:00pm Thursday April 12th
G1B20 Duane Physics, CU-Boulder

"Framing Ward Churchill: The Political Construction of Research Misconduct"

Eric Cheyfitz
Ernest I. White Professor of American Studies & Humane Letters,
Cornell University

Abstract: A nationally recognized, independent expert in American Indian law, history and culture will walk the audience through the academic misconduct charges, explain how they do and do not hold up, and discuss how the investigative report “turns a scholarly debate into an indictment.”

Emma Perez
Associate Professor and Past Chair,
Department of Ethnic Studies, University of Colorado, Boulder

Michael Yellow-Bird
Associate Professor and Past Director,
Center for Indigenous Nations Studies,
University of Kansas

Sponsored by CU-Boulder Chapter--Defend Critical Thinking Initiative, Department of English, Students for True Academic Freedom, CU-Boulder Chapter--American Association of University Professors
More from the forward circulating CU-Boulder's academic departments:
Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to inform you of a colloquium next week regarding serious new concerns re the Churchill case. Please circulate this announcement to your unit listservs and encourage your students to attend. The colloquium it titled "Re-examining the Academic Case Against Ward Churchill" with a keynote by Eric Cheyfitz titled "Framing Ward Churchill: The Political Construction of Research Misconduct." Emma Perez of CU-Boulder Ethnic Studies as well as Michael Yellow-Bird from Indigenous Nations Studies at Kansas Univ will give formal discussion as well. The colloquium will be held on Thursday, April 12th at 7:00pm in Duane Physics.

Keynote speaker Eric Cheyfitz is the Ernest I White Professor of American Studies and Humane Letters at Cornell, where he teaches American Indian studies and federal Indian law. Cheyfitz did not know Churchill before the controversy.

Cheyfitz will be presenting the material facts and results of his own very detailed examination of the 124-page investigative report on which the case for firing Churchill rests. Setting all politics aside, Cheyfitz has found material evidence of serious flaws of scholarship and of professional integrity in the report.

Among the flaws, for instance, is a disturbing discovery he made while fact-checking the report’s own citations. In its findings re Churchill’s fabrication of sources in Allegation C, the report finds that Churchill cites a text (Salisbury) which, in fact, does not support his argument. Cheyfitz went back and checked the pages in question and found that the text, on the contrary, lends support to Churchill’s argument. In this and other instances, he has discovered that the report suppresses contradictory textual evidence in order to prove fabrication. Cheyfitz discusses these matters in more detail in the March 29 Silver and Gold Record story “Debate Over Churchill Case Persists” (https://www.cu.edu/sgrecord/, click on “Archives/Search” and then on “Articles for March 29”). You can also listen to Cheyfitz’ Mar29 interview on Karen Hammer’s “Heads Up Radio,” archived online at

Perhaps most disturbing is that Cheyfitz finds strong evidence that the report, as he said in another news interview, “turns a scholarly debate into an indictment;” that is, that the report was used by one side of a divisive debate in the field to attack a prominent member of the opposed side. The report was made vulnerable to being compromised in this way because its committee contained only one field expert, without another to check and verify that one expert’s work. The checks and balances of additional experts were especially needed in the four key fabrication charges because they involve not only divisive but dense field debates regarding legal and historical interpretation (e.g. of the role of blood quantum in the implementation vs. the letter of the Dawes Act). All the members of the committee necessarily must have relied on this single expert to navigate these complicated field issues and were thus vulnerable to being misguided.

I hope you will agree that Cheyfitz’ presentation must be given the widest faculty and student audience possible. Over the past 2 years, the Churchill case has already been the subject of intense campus-wide debate and response because, through the attack on Churchill, the credibility of our scholarly profession as well as the ideal of the University as a space of free inquiry have been questioned. How much further would our institution and our integrity be damaged if the firing proceeds based on a report that history can only prove to be, as Cheyfitz contends, a deeply flawed construction.

The colloquium announcement is attached is below in plain text format.

Daniel Kim
Department of English
Any doubts where the hearts and minds of CU's liberal faculty lies?

CU's liberal profs believe "Cheyfitz’ presentation must be given the widest faculty and student audience possible". No indoctrination there. History is merely a "deeply flawed construction".

Just like Churchill.

Background on Cheyfitz from PirateBallerina here and here.

Drunkablog wonders where the heck is that Churchill recommendation?