University of Colorado interim chancellor Phil Stefano announced at a news conference today that Ethnic Studies Professor Ward Churchill has received a notice of termination. His written statement is here.
The decision follows his review of the 20 page report on Churchill submitted by CU’s Standing Committee On Research Misconduct and recommendations from the school’s provost and a dean. The committee voted six to three that Churchill should be fired as opposed to suspended without pay.
Live blogging the Chancellor’s statement:
The issues initially were did Churchill’s statements exceed the boundaries of protected speech and did he engage in research or teaching misconduct or fraudulent misrepresentation?
The finding was that the content and rhetoric about 9/11 victims were protected by the First Amendment. The allegations regarding plagiarism and research misconduct were referred to standing committee. After referral, the committee found that allegations of ethnic misresprentation did not warrant further action.
Of the 9 allegations sent to the committee, two were dismissed by a subcommittee which referred the remaining 7 allegations to an investigatory committee to explore in more detail.
The members of the committee included 3 distinguished professors from the CU faculty and 2 outside professors. The committee concluded committed he committed research misconduct.
Both the investigative committee and standing committee recommended sanctions ranging from suspension without pay to termination.
Stefano has reviewed all the reports and met with both Churchill and his lawyer David Lane. He then consulted with the Dean and Provost and made his decision.
The Notice of Intent to Dismiss now triggers a process by regent law articles 5-c1 and 2 and 5-ci.
Stephano reitierated that this decision does not weaken the university’s commitment to academic freedom. Professors must enjoy freedom of expression, since the university is a marketplace of ideas in which controversy is no stranger. Academic freedom is cherished.
He also insisted that at no time during the work of the committees has the work of other faculty members been called into question. The findings apply only to Churchill and should not be extended to others in department.
This is merely a recommendation. The final decision is up to President Brown who will make a recommendation to the Board of Regents. Churchill has 10 days to make an appeal to the Privilege and Tenure committee. They will report to President whether termination is justified.
The Standing Committee reports that it agrees with the Investigative Committee’s findings that Churchill “has committed serious, repeated and deliberate research misconduct.”
Regarding sanctions, the Standing Committee did not reach or seek consensus. However, six members voted for dismissal, two voted for suspension without pay for five years and one voted for suspension without pay for two years. There are 11 members on the committee, including the chair, who is a nonvoting member. One other member was absent.