University of Colorado at Boulder: Investigation of Professor for Controversial Essay
Entrenched in vast controversy for referring to the civilians who died in the World Trade Center as "little Eichmanns," University of Colorado at Boulder Professor Ward Churchill stepped down from his position as chair of CU-Boulder's ethnic studies department. Problems arose, however, when the CU Board of Regents declared they were going to launch an investigation into Churchill's "writings, speeches, tape recordings and other works." FIRE wrote to CU noting that Churchill is entitled to due process and should be given the chance to defend himself, and assuring the university that Churchill's speech, no matter how controversial or offensive, is protected by the First Amendment. Ultimately, the Board of Regents fired Churchill for "serious, repeated, and deliberate research misconduct" after finding that he had committed academic fraud. Churchill sued, on the basis that the investigation had been launched as a result of his controversial statements. FIRE took the position that while the initial investigation of Churchill's speech was unconstitutional, as he was protected under the First Amendment, Churchill had put himself in the spotlight through his controversial statements, and was therefore susceptible to any further inquiry into his other works. In FIRE's view, the termination for academic fraud was constitutional.
- "University of Colorado Fires Ward Churchill," July 25, 2007: Last night the University of Colorado Board of Regents voted to fire professor Ward Churchill on the grounds of “serious, repeated, and deliberate research misconduct.” This vote came more than two years after the university investigated Churchill for making controversial public statements, including a reference to the victims of the World Trade Center attacks as “little Eichmanns.” FIRE released an analysis of the situation in 2005, determining that Churchill’s statements are protected and that the university’s initial investigation was unconstitutional. FIRE further cautioned that while the university’s investigation of Churchill’s research misconduct must not be swayed by anger over the content of his statements, Churchill was not immune to such scrutiny. FIRE wrote that Churchill freely injected himself into the public square, and that if “information that … legitimately places his job in jeopardy” came to light, “then that is simply the hazard of voluntarily participating in the marketplace of ideas.”
- "FIRE Issues Analysis of Churchill Report," March 25, 2005: Yesterday, the University of Colorado Board of Regents released its “Report on Conclusion of Preliminary Review in the Matter of Professor Ward Churchill.” This report states that no action should be taken against Professor Churchill on the basis of even his most controversial public statements. The report also states, however, that sufficient evidence exists of “plagiarism, misuse of others’ work, falsification and fabrication of authority” to refer such allegations to a faculty committee. FIRE has analyzed the Regents' report and its implications for academic freedom.
- "FIRE Letter to University of Colorado at Boulder Interim Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano, February 9, 2005," February 9, 2005
- "Supreme Court Declines to Hear Ward Churchill Case," by Susan Kruth, April 5, 2013
- "Kaminer: "The End of Free Speech at University of Colorado?"," by Joseph Cohn, September 18, 2012
- "Churchill Loses in Colorado High Court; Next Stop, Supreme Court?," by Andrew Kloster, September 12, 2012
- "Colorado Supreme Court to Hear Arguments in Ward Churchill Case Thursday," by William Creeley, June 6, 2012
- "Judge rejects Ward Churchill's plea for reinstatement, vacates verdict in his favor,"
by Peter Schmidt, The Chronicle of Higher Education, July 8, 2009
- "A pox on both their houses: Ward Churchill and UC-Boulder,"
by Harvey Silverglate, The Phoenix, July 30, 2007
- "Ward Churchill and the diversity agenda,"
by Robert “K. C.” Johnson, FrontPageMagazine.com, July 30, 2007
- "Suit could end in settlement,"
by Brittany Anas, Daily Camera, July 25, 2007
- "Ward Churchill fired: What's next?,"
by Greg Lukianoff, The Huffington Post, July 25, 2007
- "University of Colorado Board of Regents fires Ward Churchill, who vows to sue,"
by John Gravois, The Chronicle of Higher Education, July 25, 2007
- "Speech on Campus After 9/11: Less Free than It Used to Be?,"
by Jennifer Van Bergen, FindLaw Legal News and Commentary, May 25, 2006
- "Prof Ready to Sue if Fired,"
by Jennifer Brown, Denver Post, May 18, 2006
- "Prof's protest of 'political litmus test' raises hackles,"
by Linda Seebach, Scripps Howard News Service, September 10, 2005
- "The Chill Is Nothing New,"
by Greg Lukianoff, The Chronicle of Higher Education, September 9, 2005
- "Inquiring Minds,"
by John Gravois, Chronicle of Higher Education, April 15, 2005
- "Churchill Wars Continue,"
by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, March 28, 2005
- "Free speech on campus,"
The Baltimore Sun, March 24, 2005
- "Insults and the Constitution,"
by Suzanne Fields, Washington Times, March 7, 2005
- "Free Speech Debate Spurs Lots of Words,"
by Glenn Coin, The Post-Standard, February 27, 2005
- "Prevention 101,"
by Candace de Russy, National Review, February 24, 2005
- "Warding off attack,"
by Dan Poulson and Harvey Silverglate, The Boston Phoenix, February 18, 2005
- "Churchill Affair: A Matter of Hypocrisy,"
by Candace de Russy, Front Page Magazine, February 15, 2005
- "Protecting Free Speech Means Rising Above Professor's Words,"
by Greg Lukianoff, Daily Journal, February 15, 2005
- "Open discussion must be protected,"
by Jason Steck, Minnesota Daily, February 14, 2005