University of Colorado Chancellor Advises Firing Author of Sept. 11 Essay

By KIRK JOHNSON
Published: June 27, 2006
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/27/education/27churchill.html?th&emc=th

DENVER, June 26 The interim chancellor at the University of Colorado said on Monday that Prof. Ward L. Churchill, whose comments about the victims of Sept. 11 prompted a national debate about the limits of free speech, should be fired for academic misconduct.

Professor Churchill, 58, was immediately relieved of his academic and research duties as a result of the chancellor's recommendation, but will continue as a paid professor pending a decision by the Board of Regents.

The chancellor, Phil DiStefano, emphasized in a news conference at the university's Boulder campus that Professor Churchill's essay about Sept. 11, in which he compared some World Trade Center victims to the Nazi henchman Adolf Eichmann, had nothing to do with the recommendation to dismiss him.

Mr. DiStefano said two committees had found evidence of serious misconduct in the professor's record, including plagiarism, misrepresentation of facts and fabrication of scholarly work.

Professor Churchill's lawyer, David Lane, said that the professor's ultimate dismissal was now inevitable, and that retribution for politically unpopular speech was the real reason. A lawsuit against the university alleging violations of the professor's First Amendment rights is also inevitable, Mr. Lane said.

"It's window dressing," Mr. Lane said. "They want to make it look legitimate so then they can fire him and say, 'Look, it had nothing to do with free speech.' "

Professor Churchill, a tenured faculty member in the department of ethnic studies since 1991, did not respond to e-mail and phone messages.

He wrote in an essay shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks that many of those who had been killed were not innocent victims but were part of a machine of American foreign and economic policy that the world was rebelling against. But it was the essay's incendiary tone, especially the comparison of dead office workers in New York City to Eichmann, who helped carry out the Holocaust, that prompted the firestorm.

Mr. DiStefano said in a telephone interview that if Professor Churchill appealed Monday's recommendation to the Faculty Senate Committee on Privilege and Tenure, the committee had 90 days to agree or disagree, though it could ask for more time. The university's president, he said, would then present the matter to the Regents for final disposition.

Mr. Lane said that the appeal to the committee would be filed, but that the final word would happen only in a court of law.

"We'll let a real jury decide what is what," he said.