Monday, June 26, 2006

CU's DiStefano: We're going to fire Churchill

That's what the Rocky is saying, with a little red "breaking news" banner on their front page that I've never seen them use before. Here's the caption to the Churchill photo accompanying the piece, which contains more info than the actual story: "The University of Colorado has started the process to terminate controversial professor Ward Churchill, Interim Chancellor Phil DiStefano said today at a 2 p.m. news conference. There are avenues of appeal open to Churchill, DiStefano said."

Update: The Post has a little more:

"Today I issued to Professor Churchill a notice of intent to dismiss him from his faculty position here at the University of Colorado," said Phil DiStefano at a press conference.

Update 2 billion: Colorado Gov. Bill Owens, wishy-washy as ever on the subject:

"'If a university is a marketplace of ideas, then Mr. Churchill is the rotten fruit among hundreds of good apples,' Owens said in a statement. 'Hopefully, we can soon say good riddance to Ward Churchill once and for all.'"

Churchill has 10 days to appeal.

"A university is a marketplace of ideas, a place where controversy is no stranger . . . indeed one of our most cherished principals is academic freedom, the right to pursue and disseminate knowledge without threat of sanction," said DiStefano. "But with freedom comes responsibility."

Update II: KHOW has the audio of the news conference here.

Update III: As Pirate Ballerina points out in highlighting this DiStefano quote, "the burlesque is far from over":

[...L]et me briefly explain the process as we go forward. Professor Churchill may request within 10 days to have President Brown or me forward this recommendation to the Faculty Senate Committee on Privilege and Tenure. If Professor Churchill does so, a special panel will then conduct hearings about this matter and make a recommendation to the president about whether the grounds for dismissal are supported.

Update IV: Churchill attorney David Lane on KHOW's Caplis and Silverman said all this faculty stuff is just "window dressing" and expressed the requisite lawyerly confidence that a Colorado jury will see through it.

Update V: Egregiously-toothed CU lickspittle Dan Caplis: "CU handled it right."

Update VI: C & S are interviewing DiStefano now.

DiStefano: This isn't about freedom of speech, but about Churchill's falsification, plagiarism, baby raping, etc.

Silverman: Lane claims Churchill didn't get sufficient notice.

D: Yes he did.

Caplis: Tell us the process from here.

D: Blah, blah, blah.

Caplis: Churchill doesn't have a case. All he can do is yell retaliation! Retaliation! Retaliation!

Caplis again (to DiStefano): I once thought you were a beast, but now I love you and want to bear your children. It's a proud day for you and the faculty.

D (shyly): Thanks, Dan.

S: How long can he drag it out?

D: Millenia (I didn't hear what he actually said. Sorry.).

S: David Lane says the university owes him $20,000 . . .

D: Legal is handling.

D (asked whether Interim Provost Susan Avery and Arts and Sciences dean Todd Gleeson supported the decision): Yes.

Interview over, kiss, kiss, kiss, a little tongue from Dan, then:

C: He's (Churchill) gonna lose in so many ways . . .

Update VII: PB points to Hot Air's un-pc reaction.

Update VIII: The story's right, but Florida Cracker, a very fine blog, goes a little too far in the headline: "WARD CHURCHILL FIRED."

Update IX: Huh. So does Occidentality (who has a good blog reax roundup): "University of Colorado Finally Resolves the Churchill Farce. Sorry, Occi, but there's still a whole bunch of clowns crammed in that little car.

Update X: The Kos kids are resigned.

Update XI: Wouldn't normally link but over at Try-Works Moredy is clenching his chubby little fists cutely and screaming at DiStefano: "You neo-Stalinist fuck" (link removed).

Update XII: The papers pontificate: the Denver Post: "The long goodbye at CU"; the Rocky: "Just deserts for Churchill." Predictably, the Post doesn't mention the various embarrassing defugalties CU committed during the controversy, while the News, as might be expected, emphasizes them:

If we appear somewhat stingy with compliments for the CU hierarchy, it's no accident. Todd Gleeson, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, not only was showering Churchill with praise long after he might have worried that his ethnic studies professor was a scandal waiting to happen, but Gleeson also privately mocked a 2004 complaint from someone who heard Churchill give a speech at Macalester College in St. Paul and wondered if it was "the educational mission of your institution to employ someone who encourages students to terrorist action."

After the furor broke over Churchill's "Little Eichmanns" essay - an essay, by the way, that justifies a "dose of medicine" against the U.S. in the form of chemical or biological weapons - Interim Chancellor Phil DiStefano released a tepid statement distancing the university from the renegade professor but revealing little sign of genuine outrage. CU's president at the time, Elizabeth Hoffman, eventually would wax indignant, but against Churchill's critics, claiming they were the vanguard of a "new McCarthyism."

Update (I've lost count): The Rocky consulted six "legal experts," all but one of whom said Churchill is a dead duck:
Attorneys who specialize in higher education law said CU can win a suit as long as the university followed due process in moving against Churchill.

And, they say, a powerful report by a CU investigative committee, detailing the evidence of misconduct, will be tough for Churchill to overcome.

"If they fire him, he'll stay fired," said Harvey Silverglate, a Massachusetts civil liberties attorney who specializes in representing faculty members in academic freedom cases.
How. Ever.

Michael Olivas of the University of Houston Law Center said Churchill has "a better-than-average chance" of showing that the investigation of his scholarship was launched in retaliation for his expression of unpopular opinions.

"They wouldn't be caring about Ward Churchill if it hadn't been for his 'little Eichmanns' remark, which may be inelegant, but he's entitled to it," said Olivas, the author of a widely used book on higher education law.

Update 2 billion: Colorado Gov. Bill Owens, reticent as ever on the controversy, backs the "it's just Churchill" line:
"'If a university is a marketplace of ideas, then Mr. Churchill is the rotten fruit among hundreds of good apples,' Owens said in a statement. 'Hopefully, we can soon say good riddance to Ward Churchill once and for all.'"

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