Wednesday, July 25, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Professor fired over research misconduct vows suit

The Associated Press

BOULDER, Colo. — The University of Colorado's governing board on Tuesday fired a professor whose essay likening some Sept. 11 victims to a Nazi leader provoked national outrage and led to an investigation of research misconduct.

Ward Churchill vowed to sue after the Board of Regents' 8-1 vote was announced. "I am going nowhere," Churchill told reporters.

Three faculty committees had accused Churchill of plagiarism, falsification and other misconduct. The research allegations stem from some of Churchill's other writings, although the investigation began after the controversy over his Sept. 11 essay.

"The decision was really pretty basic," said university President Hank Brown, adding that the school had little choice but to fire Churchill to protect the integrity of the university's research.

Churchill's essay mentioning Sept. 11 victims and Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann prompted a chorus of demands for his firing, but university officials concluded it was protected speech under the First Amendment.

Brown recommended in May that the regents fire Churchill after faculty committees accused him of misconduct in some of his academic writing. The allegations included misrepresenting the effects of federal laws on American Indians, fabricating evidence that the Army deliberately spread smallpox to Mandan Indians in 1837 and claiming the work of a Canadian environmental group as his own.

The essay that thrust Churchill into the national spotlight, titled "Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens," was not part of the investigation.

That essay and a follow-up book argued that the Sept. 11 attacks were a response to a long history of U.S. abuses. Churchill said those killed in the World Trade Center collapse were "a technocratic corps at the very heart of America's global financial empire" and called them "little Eichmanns."

Churchill has said Eichmann was a bureaucrat who carried out policies such as the Holocaust that were planned by others but was still responsible for his own actions.

Churchill wrote the essay shortly after the attacks, but it drew little notice until 2005, when a professor at Hamilton College in New York called attention to it when Churchill was invited to speak there.

In the uproar that followed, the regents apologized to "all Americans" for the essay, the Colorado Legislature labeled Churchill's remarks "evil and inflammatory," and then-Gov. Bill Owens said Churchill should be fired.

Churchill remained on the university payroll but had been out of the classroom since spring 2006, first because he was on leave and later because the school relieved him of teaching duties after the interim chancellor recommended he be fired.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company


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