CU Report: Churchill Committed 'Deliberate' Academic Misconduct

Churchill Hit With Another Allegation

A University of Colorado investigative committee reviewing the writings of professor Ward Churchill has unanimously determined that he did commit serious academic misconduct, including several instances of plagiarism, falsification and fabrication, according to a report released Tuesday.

"The Committee found that Professor Churchill's misconduct was deliberate and not a matter of an occasional careless error," the report said. "The Committee has found repeated instances of his practice of fabricating details or ostensible written evidence to buttress his broader ideological arguments."

Churchill has repeatedly denied doing anything wrong. Churchill said he had no comment about the report.

The committee has been looking into seven cases in which the embattled ethnic studies professor is accused of falsifying data or misrepresenting historical facts in his scholarly work.

The five-member committee differed on what sanctions to impose. Three members of the committee believe his actions are so serious that dismissal from CU is not an improper sanction. However, only one of these three professors recommended dismissal. The other two members recommended that he be suspended from CU without pay for five years.

Two other members of the five-member committee don't think he should be fired. They don't think his conduct is so serious as to revoke his tenure and recommended that he be suspended without pay for two years.

The committee's recommendations are not binding and the decision on Churchill's future will be made by university officials later this year. Churchill has said if he is fired, he will file a lawsuit that could drag on for years.

Churchill angered many people with an essay comparing some Sept. 11, 2001, victims to a Nazi. University officials determined he could not be fired for the comments but launched an investigation into the allegations about his research, which included accusations of plagiarism and fabrication.

"Although those essays played no part in our deliberations, the Committee expresses its concern regarding the timing and perhaps the motives for the University's decision to forward charges made in that context. We point out finally that when Professor Churchill was hired as an Associate Professor with tenure in 1991 and promoted to (full) Professor in 1997, the University knew that he did not have a Ph.D. or law degree, as commonly expected for faculty at this institution, and was aware that he was a controversial public intellectual," the committee said in its report.

The essay, written in the hours after the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, came to light last year and brought immediate denunciations from the governor, state lawmakers and relatives of Sept. 11 victims in New York.

The committee's 125-page report said Churchill falsified, fabricated and plagiarized his research, did not comply with standards for listing other authors' names and did not follow accepted practice for reporting research results.

The members of the committee were identified as Marianne Wesson, law professor at CU Boulder; Robert N. Clinton, law professor at Arizona State University; Jose E. Limon, professor of American and English literature at the University of Texas at Austin; Marjorie K. McIntosh, history professor at CU; and Michael L. Radelet, chair of the department of Sociology at CU.

Click here to read the full report. (PDF File)

Response To Report

Many lawmakers responding to the report felt that given the findings, Churchill should resign.

"The University's investigation into the academic misconduct of Ward Churchill appears to be thorough and objective. For many Coloradans, the findings confirm that Churchill has tarnished the title of professor and his future at C.U. is appropriately in question," said Gov. Bill Owens. "Unfortunately, as the lengthy process continues, the prolonged presence of Ward Churchill at C.U. besmirches the reputation of a fine university and its many outstanding teachers. Confronted with the committee’s findings of falsification, fabrication and plagiarism, Churchill should resign."

The chair of the University of Colorado Board of Regents, Paul Schauer, said he was "grateful of the work, commitment and dedicated hours by the Investigative Committee to fully investigate a very high profile matter concerning allegations of research misconduct made against professor Ward Churchill. Now we must wait for the full recommendations from the standing committee to the provost and dean of Arts and Sciences."

Churchill's Wife Resigns From CU

Also Tuesday, Churchill's wife, Natsu Saito, said she has resigned her tenured teaching position at the school but said she and Churchill have no plans to leave Boulder.

In her resignation letter, Saito, who also teaches in the ethnic studies department, accused the university of reneging on promises to her and her department, ignoring racial harassment of the department and individuals, and treating Churchill unfairly.

She said her decision to resign was not prompted by the panel's report.

Saito said she will resume teaching at Georgia State University College of Law in Atlanta, where she has been on the faculty since 1994. She has been on leave from Georgia State since January 2004 while teaching at CU. Saito said she would commute to Atlanta to teach at the Georgia State law school.

Churchill Hit With Another Allegation

Meanwhile, Churchill has also has been hit with another allegation of research misconduct. A University of Minnesota faculty member said Churchill used one of her photos in a publication without permission, and she says the caption he wrote for it exaggerated the facts.

Brenda Child, a member of the Red Lake Ojibwa tribe, published the picture of a child's grave in a 1998 award-winning book on Indian boarding schools. She said Churchill used the same photo without permission and wrote a caption saying half of the children at such schools died. Child calls that a tremendous exaggeration and said no historian has an accurate estimate of the true number of deaths.

Child didn't file a complaint.

Churchill's 2004 book on Indian boarding schools credits Child for the photo and cites her book as a source in 15 footnotes. Child said those attributions are correct and the quotations are accurate.

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