200 CU Teachers Ask That Inquiry Into Churchill Be Dropped
4:58 AM, Feb 26, 2005
Officials with the University of Colorado are reportedly considering offering controversial professor Ward Churchill an early retirement package.The Denver Post reports the deal is in the very early stages.A three person panel is scheduled to deliver a report on Churchill's tenure.Churchill became the center of a national uproar after people started reading one of his essays, comparing some victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to a Nazi official. The chancellor is now reviewing Churchill's writing, speeches, conduct and recordings.Now, CU's Board of Regents said they're concerned over recent revelations that some of Churchill's artwork may have violated copyright laws.Meanwhile, a full-page ad taken out by 200 CU faculty members calls for the school to drop inquiry into Churchill's writings.Gov. Bill Owens and others have called for the firing of Churchill, a tenured professor.The faculty members paid for the ad to run Monday in The Boulder Daily Camera.
The ad says the review of the professor, expected to complete by the middle of March, should be stopped immediately. The ad says the inquiry is the result of political pressure and not based on "any prior formal complaint of specific professional or academic misconduct on his part." The 200 faculty members' statement defends Churchill's "right to speak what he believes to be the truth" based on academic freedom rules designed to prevent faculty members from being fired for unpopular views. In the esssay, written immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Churchill appeared to sympathize with the hijackers. He wrote that some victims were not innocent because of their role in driving U.S. foreign policy. Under pressure from Owens, the Legislature, and the Board of Regents, the university began an investigation of Churchill. CU's Arts and Sciences Council passed a resolution Feb. 10 protesting the investigation, and said administrators should know that faculty members are serious about their opposition to what some consider a witch hunt. Margaret LeCompte, an education professor, said, "It is going to be extremely difficult, if academic freedom is on the block, for us to hire and keep good faculty members.' LeCompte and the other teachers who signed the ad paid $1,600 to have it published. "We're all thinking twice about what we're saying," LeCompte said, recalling the climate in the McCarthy era when professors were fired for alleged communist ties.