Editor's note: Tenured professor Ward Churchill alleges in his lawsuit filed July 25 that after his Sept. 11 essay came to light, "the university vowed
to examine every word ever written or spoken by Professor Churchill in an effort
to find some excuse for terminating his employment." University spokesman Ken
McConnellogue said the school stands behind the regents' vote to fire Churchill.
"We believe this is a matter of academic integrity for the university, so we
will not be settling the lawsuit," he said.
BOULDER, Colo. — A professor scorned for remarks about Sept. 11 victims vowed
that his firing over allegations of plagiarism, falsification and other
misconduct wouldn't end his 2 1/2-year dispute with the University of
"New game, new game," said a defiant Ward Churchill, referring to his intent
to sue the university after the state Board of Regents voted 8-1 yesterday to
remove him as ethnic-studies chairman.
Three faculty committees had accused Churchill of plagiarism, falsification
and other misconduct in portions of his research. The allegations were unrelated
to an essay he wrote that likened some victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks to
a Nazi leader.
David Lane, Churchill's attorney, said his client's dismissal simply marked a
change in venue for the dispute.
"We're out of kangaroo court and going into real court," he said.
Lane plans to file a lawsuit in Denver today alleging Churchill's First
Amendment rights were violated. He said Churchill was targeted because of his
University President Hank Brown said the school had little choice but to fire
Churchill to protect the integrity of the university's research.
"I think from all the discussion I've heard, the focus on this question
solely related to his research and the efforts to falsify research, and
specifically, both the charges and the discussion did not relate to 9/11," Hank
Churchill had vowed to file a lawsuit if he was fired, a threat Brown said
had no bearing on the decision.
The university's allegations against Churchill included misrepresenting the
effects of federal laws on American Indians, fabricating evidence that the Army
deliberately spread smallpox to Mandan Indians in 1837, and claiming the work of
a Canadian environmental group as his own.
The essay that gained Churchill widespread scorn, "Some People Push Back: On
the Justice of Roosting Chickens," was not part of the investigation.
The essay and a follow-up book argued that the 2001 terrorist attacks were a
response to a long history of U.S. abuses. Churchill said those killed in the
World Trade Center collapse were "a technocratic corps at the very heart of
America's global financial empire." He called them "little Eichmanns," referring
to Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann.
Churchill wrote the piece shortly after the attacks, but it drew little
notice until 2005, when a professor at Hamilton College in upstate New York
called attention to it when Churchill was invited to speak there.
The Colorado regents subsequently apologized to "all Americans" for the essay
and the Colorado Legislature labeled Churchill's remarks "evil and
Bill Owens, then governor of Colorado, said Churchill should be fired, and
George Pataki, then governor of New York, called Churchill a "bigoted terrorist
School officials concluded Churchill couldn't be dismissed because he was
exercising his First Amendment rights. But they launched the investigation into
his research in other work.
A faculty committee and an interim chancellor had recommended Churchill be
fired. When a second committee reviewed the case, three of its five members
recommended suspension. The other two said he should be fired.
Churchill remained on the university payroll but has been out of the
classroom since the spring of 2006. The school relieved him of teaching duties
after the interim chancellor recommended he be fired.