Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Let That Be a Lesson

From the Rocky Mountain News:

University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill stole the work of others, twisted facts to bolster his own theories and repeatedly violated the most basic standards of scholarly research, the committee assigned to investigate him wrote in a stinging report made public Tuesday.

One of the five committee members recommended Churchill be fired. Two said he should be suspended without pay for two years; the two others recommended a five- year suspension without pay.

The final decision will be left to Provost Susan Avery and arts-and- sciences Dean Todd Gleeson, and it is not expected until mid-June.


Despite the harsh findings, the committee expressed its concern about the timing and possible motives for the university to bring charges at this time.

Some of the allegations against Churchill had been known for a decade, and the inquiry was launched only after his controversial Sept. 11 essay came to light last year, they noted.

In that essay, Churchill said the attacks were the predictable result of a U.S. foreign policy that caused the deaths of thousands of Iraqi children.

He referred to some of the victims of the attack on the World Trade Center as “little Eichmanns,” a reference to Nazi Adolf Eichmann, who helped coordinate the Holocaust. The people who died at the Pentagon, he wrote, weren’t innocent victims but “military targets, pure and simple.”

After the essay was widely publicized, lawmakers and many in the public called for Churchill to be fired.

While CU officials said Churchill’s comments were covered by free speech, they apologized to the nation and ordered a full investigation into his work.

The first rule of education on any level is that it isn’t about the teacher. The research takes you where it takes you, and if it ends up somewhere other than where you thought it would go, then so be it. That, after all, is what the search for knowledge is all about, and that’s why charges of research misconduct and plagiarism are capital offenses. It appears that Prof. Churchill forgot that, and when he made his work about him and his points of view, he betrayed the meaning of education and research. Regardless of his politics, he should be fired.