Finally CU gets some balls.
Boulder - University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill plagiarized, fabricated and falsified material and seriously deviated from accepted research practices in his writings, a report released Tuesday said.
The ethnic-studies professor's academic misconduct was serious enough that CU could fire him or suspend him without pay, at least for two years, the committee report said.
"Professor Churchill's misconduct was deliberate and not a matter of an occasional error," it said.
Churchill's writings show an "indifference to the proper attribution of scholarly work to its genuine author" and a "pattern of failure to understand the difference between scholarship and polemic."
Four of the five scholars who examined Churchill's work for four months thought CU should suspend him without pay - two suggested two years and two suggested five years. The fifth committee member said the university should fire him.
Two of the committee members who recommended suspension agreed the misconduct was severe enough that CU could fire Churchill.
Churchill's fate is in the hands of provost Susan Avery, arts and sciences dean Todd Gleeson and interim chancellor Phil DiStefano, who are expected to announce a decision by mid-June.
Churchill, who received the report Tuesday morning, told 9News the findings were false. He also said that no committee members were competent in his field or any other areas discussed, except law, and that people competent in his field were excluded.
Churchill took particular exception to a finding that he was disrespectful of Indian oral traditions when he wrote about an 1837 smallpox epidemic. The committee was "a bunch of white academics" who "overruled" what Native Americans have told him, he said. "I have disrespected no one. They did," he said.
Churchill attorney David Lane told 9News he plans to take a case to federal court if CU fires Churchill.
Churchill has two weeks to write a response to the report.
The committee investigated seven allegations against Churchill, finding problems in six. They include his interpretation of Indian law and his suggestion that the U.S. government intentionally spread smallpox to Indians.
The committee said Churchill's tendency "is to attack" anyone criticizing his work. The panel disagreed with his description of scholarly process, calling it "impoverished."
The report quoted Churchill as saying this about his research methods: "I've got this general understanding. You say, 'but can that general understanding be confirmed?' Well, I'm looking to confirm it. I'm also looking for information, and I told you this at the outset, I'm looking to prove it's true."
The committee, consisting of three CU professors and two from other universities, decided to keep secret the way each member voted. Committee chairwoman Marianne Wesson, a CU law professor, said they had been subjected to "a certain amount of abuse" from the public and wanted the protection of confidentiality as they spoke with one another.
Politicians, including state Rep. Josh Penry of Grand Junction and state Sen. Shawn Mitchell of Broomfield, both Republicans, called on CU to fire the professor.
"The speech is free, but it doesn't mean he can enjoy it and maintain a taxpayer-funded position," Mitchell said.
Gov. Bill Owens suggested Churchill resign, saying his "prolonged presence ... besmirches the reputation of a fine university and its many outstanding teachers."
The chairman of the university's regents, Paul Schauer, thanked the committee for its work and declined to comment further, as did CU president Hank Brown and other administrators.
If provost Avery and dean Gleeson recommend termination, Brown and the regents will have the final decision, and they said they did not want to influence the process.
Faculty council chair Rod Muth said the report shows that the Churchill case is not the norm.
"Either the man is immensely sloppy or, as they indicate in the findings, dishonest," Muth said. "For this many things to be substantiated, it says the individual is not paying attention to standards of scholarly practice."
The university has the legal right to suspend Churchill without pay for two or five years, said J. Eric Elliff, counsel to CU's Standing Committee on Research Misconduct.
The typical punishment in cases this serious is usually dismissal or suspension of pay, said Jonathan Knight, director of academic freedom and tenure at the American Association of University Professors.
Knight said Churchill has been given a fair investigation and is not being pursued because of his controversial statements.
"From our point of view, there were requisite safeguards on his fitness to continue," he said. "The report followed procedures."
The five-member ad hoc committee was formed by CU's Standing Committee, which determined in September there was enough evidence against Churchill for a full-blown investigation.
The Standing Committee now is looking into recent allegations against Churchill by activist and author Ernesto Vigil.
Committee members have not announced whether Vigil's six accusations, including that Churchill wrongly described Salvadoran peasants as Indians and that he got the name of a village wrong, merit an in-depth probe.
The investigation into Churchill's work began because of controversy over his essay comparing some victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to Nazi bureaucrat Adolf Eichmann, who managed plans to exterminate European Jews. The essay surfaced in the public eye in January 2005.
University administrators determined that free-speech rights prevented Churchill from being punished for the essay, but regents voted in February 2005 to review Churchill's work.