Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Fired Professor Ward Churchill to Sue University of Colorado

Ward Churchill will file a lawsuit against the University of Colorado Wednesday. He is challenging his dismissal as a professor from the institution.

University of Colorado regents voted 8-1 Tuesday to accept school president Hank Brown's recommendation to fire him. CU Regent Cindy Carlisle had the lone dissenting vote.

Ward Churchill and his attorney, David Lane, plan to file suit in Denver District Court. Churchill is the first tenured professor that the school has ever fired for scholarly fraud.

Lane plans to amend Churchill’s existing lawsuit against the school. It will now seek Churchill’s reinstatement, a financial settlement, and demand that the university pay the attorney’s fees.

Churchill is filing in Denver instead of Boulder because he says they'll get a more diverse jury in Denver, and a speedier trial than if they filed in Boulder.

Churchill was dismissed because an investigation found that he misrepresented the effects of federal laws on American Indians, that he wrongly claimed evidence indicated Capt. John Smith exposed Indians to smallpox in the 1600s, and claimed the work of a Canadian environmental group as his own. After the board of regents' vote, Brown addressed the media saying the university had no choice but to terminate Churchill’s employment after allegations of plagiarism and academic misconduct were deemed valid. COMMENT ON THE FIRING OF CHURCHILL "This case is a very clear example of an effort to falsify history and fabricate history," Brown said “The individual involved did not express regret or apologize…or refrain from this kind of falsification in the future." The announcement of the board of regents' 8-1 vote to fire Churchill came at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. It was greeted with loud boos and shouting from a gathering of Churchill's supporters. The fired professor called the decision a fraud. His attorney said the lawsuit they are filing is based on the First Amendment. It alleges the university is punishing the former professor for controversial speech. The investigation of Churchill began after a 2001 essay surfaced in which Churchill compared workers in New York City's World Trade Center terrorist attacks to Nazi architect Adolf Eichmann. CU said the action against Churchill was not related to that paper, because it was covered under the rights of free speech. But it did touch off a 15-month long investigation into some of Churchill's other work. The investigation started in 2005, and ended with the findings of plagiarism and academic misconduct.. A five-member faculty panel voted 3-2 to punish, but not fire, Churchill. In May, however, CU president Hank Brown recommended that Churchill be fired. Governor Bill Ritter and former Governor Bill Owens both supported Churchill's termination.

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