May 28, 2007

CU prez Brown: Fire Churchill


The Daily Camera:
University of Colorado President Hank Brown has recommended in a report addressed to the CU Board of Regents that embattled ethnic studies professor Ward Churchill be dismissed from the faculty.

In the 10-page confidential report, which is addressed to Board of Regents Chair Patricia Hayes, Brown states that it is "my determination that Professor Churchill should be dismissed for cause as a result of his misconduct."

The report, dated Friday, includes a number of reasons why Brown believes the controversial professor should be sacked.

Chief among them is "conduct which falls below the minimum standards of professional integrity."

The president said in an interview late Sunday that his report, which has not been officially released, must still go back to the Privilege and Tenure Committee at CU for a last review before being sent back to him for final approval.

"It is a draft of my thinking that is for the review of the Privilege and Tenure Committee," Brown said. "If they wish, they can make additional comments to me and then I'll take action."

That could take another 15 days.

Brown, who said he was not at liberty to discuss what was in the report as long as the investigation into Churchill's status was ongoing, did not indicate whether feedback from the committee would have any effect on the recommendation he made in the May 25 report.

The CU regents are charged with making the final decision on Churchill's fate — a vote that is likely to happen sometime this summer. . . .

David Lane, Churchill's attorney, called the university's investigation into Churchill's scholarship "retaliation" for comments the professor wrote six years ago comparing those killed in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, to Nazi bureaucrat Adolf Eichmann.

"All of this is retaliation for his First Amendment protected speech," Lane said. "The entire deal, from A to Z."

He said both he and his client "totally expected" Brown's recommendation.

Totally, man.

"Hank Brown is a politician and he will do what politicians do," Lane said Sunday. "The right thing has nothing to do with anything. It's whether politically it's in his interest."

He pledged to take Churchill's case to state or federal court if the regents oust him.

"We're done with kangaroo court; we're getting ready for real court," Lane said.

Two regents who were reached Sunday, including Hayes, said they hadn't yet seen Brown's report.

Despite Brown's characterization of the report as not yet finalized, it is filled with detailed analysis by Brown of prior academic committee reports regarding Churchill and the president's reasons for agreeing or disagreeing with their conclusions.

He wrote that the Privilege and Tenure Committee "erred" in finding two instances where Churchill's alleged academic misconduct did not fall below the minimum standards of professional integrity.

He called Churchill's violations of CU's academic standards "severe."

And he wrote that Churchill's rights to free expression have nothing to do with the charges of fabrication and plagiarism he faces.

"The record demonstrates that the committees took extraordinary care to consider only the allegations of research misconduct and were not motivated by any desire to punish Professor Churchill for exercising his First Amendment rights," Brown wrote.

"Each expressly acknowledged the essential purpose of academic freedom and free speech in the University setting, but recognized that academic freedom does not protect fraudulent scholarship."

Update: If the Camera has the report, which they apparently do, why didn't they publish it?

Update II: Leaked on Memorial Day, eh? What is it, the second slowest news day of the year after Christmas?

Update III: Churchill has David Lane, but who will CU have representing it in Churchill's lawsuit? Will they use their own counsel, or can they go outside? Whoever it is, I hope they're adept at clearing away obfuscation, because that's what this case will be about. I suggest a combination of Louis Nizer and Daniel Petrocelli.

Update IV: The Post (update: it's an AP story) quotes the ever-measured Chutch:
"I've got more faith in almost anything (than in the university process)," he said. "A random group of homeless people under a bridge would be far more intellectually sound and principled than anything I've encountered at the university so far." Churchill said the faculty committee that conducted the primary investigation of his work was loaded against him, and that the university ignored his suggestions for specific scholars with a background in ethnic studies to be members of the panel.
He wanted to name the people who would judge his scholarship, and they ignored him? Ya Basta! And notice, Churchill doesn't mention trying to get anybody specific off the panel, as Charley Arthur claims he did with committee chair Mimi Wesson.

Update V: PB links to the happy-go-lucky but anonymous cat-beaters at the Ward Churchill Solidarity Network, who have Churchill's alleged response to Hank Brown's as yet unpublished recommendation to the regents to fire him.

Update VI: Oops, here's Hank's letter to the regents. And Churchill lawyer David Lane's letter to Brown protesting the "denial" of Churchill's due process, both now linked at the original Daily Camera story.

Update VII: Sounds good to me. Brown spends a fair amount of time defending the process CU followed, pointing out several times that Churchill had ample chance to present his case and to have his objections to the process heard.

Brown also notes that "more than 25 faculty members, both from within and outside the university community, evaluated the allegations against Churchill. Each faculty member, without exception, determined that Professor Churchill engaged in deliberate and repeated research misconduct."

Churchill's response seems quite weak, he said vaguely (I'm far too full of putrefying ruminant at the moment to be anything but vague. Sorry.).

posted by jgm

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