C.U. Regents To Decide Shortly in Boulder on Prof. Churchill


The University of Colorado regents are meeting now to decide whether to revoke the tenure of Professor Ward Churchill on highly irregular charges of academic misconduct in an atmosphere of ideological conformity and retribution for controversial comments on the September 11 attacks some six-years ago. They are to announce their vote at about 4:00 M.D.T.

Professor on way to hearing today. Photo courtesy of Denver Post

This absurd sentence in the sloppy Tom McGhee Denver Post article is typical of the disinformation surrounding this auto da fe:

“Eventually, other revelations about Churchill became public, including that his hiring bypassed most of CU’s normal processes for awarding tenure, and that he had no proof of his claimed Native American ancestry, which was the foundation of his hiring.”

This is irrational. One is hired presumably through an interview, the submission of a curriculum vitae, course evaluations, sample of publications etc. A department or programme makes the recommendation and a dean or other empowered administrator makes the offer and presents the contract. This has NOTHING to do with tenure. While tenure might be discussed or even offered at a hiring, it is totally distinct from the initial hiring process. Tenure is based on scholarship. teaching and service that is assessed subsequent to hiring although prior academic productivity, if applicable, is part of the review process. It is unlikely that an academician is hired capriciously or erroneously in terms of tenure requirements, because tenure if granted, is normally in the eighth year following the usual application for it in the sixth year. This type of ignorance of the academic-evaluation process is magnified by the crime that is to be committed in all likelihood today. Academicians are not legitimately dismissed for their ideas or trumped up politicised charges of scholarly transgressions.

Even if a professor is hired and granted tenure simultaneously, that is not necessarily in violation of a university by-laws on tenure but may well represent a considerable pre-hiring academic record. I have seen no official statement that Ward Churchill’s tenure was illegitimately granted or awarded. In fact he has been promoted to full professor which suggests continued producitivity at the Colorado school. With regard to a terminal degree, it is not that uncommon that someone achieves tenure without it. I have known several but a terminal degree in a field is the norm. However, unless a university handbook expressly forbids it, I see no reason for the Denver Post to be sniping about Mr Churchill’s master’s degree. Arthur Schlesinger, Jr, the late and famous American historian did not have a Ph.D. and while I am not comparing the two, I do think universities can make choices that may defy conventional wisdom.

The article also assumes that Professor Churchill misrepresented his Native-American ethnicity. That issue was explored in the early years of Professor Chruchill’s appointment and there was never any formal or official university conclusion that the professor dissembled about his origins. The Denver Post article appears to have been written by the Public Affairs office of the University of Colorado.

I have to say this. I think the article’s reference to the type of cigarette Profesor Churchill was smoking and whether it was filtered or not was gratutious. I am not a user of tobacco but this was an obvious ploy to criticise a habit. Mr McGhee, why don’t you just state in an editorial you want him fired and stop this reportorial song and dance.

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