The University of Colorado Board of Regents has spoken in the Ward Churchill matter. At a press conference today, Chancellor Phil DiStefano announced that the Regents had determined that Professor Churchill’s comments and writings, including those on the 9/11 attacks and victims, were protected by his First Amendment rights.

“In our review, we have found that the content and rhetoric of Professor Churchill’s writings — no matter how repugnant I find them — are protected by the First Amendment. While there are limits to the protections afforded by the Constitution, our review has determined that those limits have not been exceeded in Professor Churchill’s case,” DiStefano said.

The Regents decided otherwise with respect to allegations of plagiarism and misrepresention:

“Allegations of research misconduct have also been made, including plagiarism, fabrication and misuse of others’ work. As a university, we are obliged to fully investigate such allegations regardless of when or how they emerge. At the level of preliminary review just concluded, our responsibility was to determine whether these allegations of research misconduct are frivolous or not … In the course of this review we have determined that the allegations regarding research misconduct warrant referral to the standing committee, ” DiStefano said. “In regard to the allegation of misrepresentation of ethnicity, to gain credibility and an audience for scholarship, we believe such misrepresentation may constitute research misconduct and failure to meet standards of professional integrity.

The Standing Committee on Research Misconduct, composed of CU faculty, will now examine these issues and make a recommendation to the vice chancellor of academic affairs and the Chancellor. DeStefano will then make the final call as to whether Churchill should be fired. The review process is expected to last about seven months. Ward Churchill issued this statement after the press conference.

First is that the findings on the speech issue is validating to the idea that there was not a basis to begin an investigation in the first place. Second point is that the allegations that have been made since are politically motivated. They are an attempt to backfill baseless charges that were made in the first instance and they will be easily disproven. And if anyone had talked to me in the course of this preliminary investigation, they would have been fully apprised of the frivolous nature of the charges.