Thursday, July 26, 2007

Thank You, President Hank Brown!

"Controversy -- especially self-sought controversy -- doesn't immunize a faculty member from adhering to professional standards."---President Hank Brown

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Today the Wall Street Journal publishes an article by the President of the University of Colorado Hank Brown explaining why he fired Ward Churchill. Here are some highlights:

Why I Fired Professor Churchill
By HANK BROWN July 26, 2007; Page A13


...Mr. Churchill drew considerable attention to himself in an essay that compared 9/11 victims to notorious Nazi Adolf Eichmann.

While no action was taken by the university with regard to his views on 9/11, many complaints surfaced at the time about his scholarship from faculty around the country. The university had an obligation to investigate. The complaints led to the formation of three separate investigative panels -- which included more than 20 of his faculty peers and which worked for over two years -- to unanimously find a pattern of serious, deliberate and repeated research misconduct that fell below minimum standards of professional integrity.

The panels found that Mr. Churchill rewrote history to fit his own theories. When confronted, he asserted he was not responsible. According to one report, "Professor Churchill has, on more than one occasion, claimed that certain acts that appear to have been his were instead the responsibility of some other actor: his editor or publisher, his assistant, or his former wife and collaborator." The report goes on to note that "we have come to see these claims as emblems of a recurrent refusal to take responsibility for errors . . . and a willingness to blame others for his troubles."

...A public research university such as ours requires public faith that each faculty member's professional activities and search for truth are conducted according to the academic standards on which an institution's reputation rests.

The University of Colorado's reputation was called into question in the matter of Ward Churchill. His claim that he was singled out for his free speech is a smokescreen.

Controversy -- especially self-sought controversy -- doesn't immunize a faculty member from adhering to professional standards. If you are a responsible faculty member, you don't falsify research, you don't plagiarize the work of others, you don't fabricate historical events and you don't thumb your nose at the standards of the profession. More than 20 of Mr. Churchill's faculty peers from Colorado and other universities found that he committed those acts. That's what got him fired....[full text]

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