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U. Colorado Regents balk at Ward Churchill deal
Regents balk at Churchill deal
Plagiarism allegation stalls buyout proposal
Plagiarism allegation stalls buyout proposal
By Arthur Kane and Dave Curtin
Denver Post Staff Writers
Saturday, March 12, 2005 -
Settlement negotiations between the University of Colorado and professor Ward Churchill have stalled because of renewed opposition by groups that want to see him fired even if it takes a court fight to make him go away.
"The ball is in CU's court," said Churchill attorney David Lane, who confirmed negotiations have hit a wall.
Late Thursday, a settlement was all but done after lawyers for Churchill and the university agreed on financial terms, but when revelations arose Friday about a plagiarism complaint against Churchill, regents balked.
Churchill critics, including former state Senate President John Andrews, and private citizens across Colorado contacted some elected regents or went public Friday to express their displeasure with any negotiated settlement with the professor who demonized some 9/11 victims as Nazis.
Andrews, who runs the Colorado office of the Claremont Institute think tank, published a report claiming Churchill had committed plagiarism and academic fraud, and said he might work separate from the institute to recall from office any regents who agree to pay Churchill to leave his job.
"If any Republican regent would vote to either pay off Churchill or keep him on the faculty, I've got a radio audience and e-mails from 10,000 folks around the state who would do anything to see that regent recalled," Andrews said.
"There would be a firestorm of reaction if they pay Churchill and reward him financially for his bad behavior."
A representative of a Canadian University determined that Ward Churchill had plagiarized passages from an essay by one of their professors, Fay G. Cohen. Churchill says he never claimed authorship of the essay they claim is plagiarized, only that he "prepared" it for publication, with some credit to Cohen, on behalf of a non-profit group. Here is a look at how two passages compare:
What Fay G. Cohen wrote in "Implementing Fishing Rights: Conflicts and Cooperation" in 1991:
"The formation and strategy of the Northwest Water Resources Committee provides and illustration of how the process of change occurred. Established by major Northwest timber, utility and banking companies, this committee wanted to assess the implications of a 1980 ruling in Phase II, which supported the concept of environmental protection for treaty fisheries. The industrialists were concerned about the limits that such protection might place on future development and about the uncertainty it could engender. They hired an attorney who had previously worked on treaty issues. His analysis highlighted the record of legal losses suffered by treaty opponents. He outlined the available options and recommended direct negotiations with tribes. The corporations agreed."
What was "prepared" by Ward Churchill for "The Institute for Natural Progress" in the 1992 book "In Usual and Accustomed Places" by Churchill's then wife, Marianne Jaimes-Guerrero:
"The formation and strategy of the Northwest Water Resources Committee (NWRC)offers a useful illustration of how the process has evolved. Created in 1981 by major timber, utility and banking concerns, NWRC set out to assess the implications of a 1980 ruling in U.S. v. Washington (Phase II), which endorsed the concept of environmental protection for native fisheries. NWRC was concerned about the limits such protection might place on future development and about the uncertainty it could engender among potential investors. The committee hired James Waldo, an attorney experienced in treaty litigation to study the matter. His analysis highlighted the record of legal losses suffered by treaty opponents, outlined the options available to NWRC, and recommended direct negotiations with indigenous nations. The corporation agreed"
- Comparative passages come from notes accompanying an essay by John P. LaVelle in the Spring 1999 edition of Wicazo SA Review
On Tuesday, a Canadian university provided CU with an attorney's 1997 opinion on a 13-year-old publishing dispute involving Churchill. That attorney determined Churchill had published the work of one of the school's professors without adequate citation, according to a university spokesman.
Dalhousie University of Nova Scotia spokesman Charles Crosby said CU officials contacted the school last week about whether Churchill misappropriated an essay by Dalhousie professor Fay G. Cohen for a 1992 book on Native Americans by Churchill's then-wife.
Allegation of threat
A Denmark organization published Cohen's essay in 1991 in a newsletter edited by Churchill, with her permission, and full credit. But in 1992, Churchill asked if he could publish it again, this time in North America in a collection being assembled by his then-wife. Cohen refused, and she says he published it anyway, without giving her credit, then threatened to "get her for this" when she objected, according to Crosby.
The International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs newsletter that originally published Cohen's work in 1991 allows the reproduction of its contents with citation, but notes in the back of the newsletter: "The reproduction of whole documents should not occur without the consent of IWGIA, according to our copyrights."
In the 1992 book, Cohen's essay is altered in several ways from the 1991 original, but the similarities are striking. The 1992 chapter is said to be authored by The Institute for Natural Progess. Cohen is cited among 88 footnotes, but at the end of the book a note says Churchill "assumed the lead role in preparing" that article for publication.
The similarities between Cohen's work and the article published in 1992 were published by law professor John LaVelle in 1999, and never resulted in a lawsuit or university discipline.
But after the public saw the combination of Friday's story in The Denver Post declaring that a financial agreement had been reached with Churchill and one in the Rocky Mountain News detailing the publishing dispute and the allegation that Churchill had threatened Cohen, negotiations ceased.
"The ... thing about him threatening that lady threw everyone into a rage," a regent said. A former CU journalism professor also has said she once was threatened in a dispute with Churchill.
Churchill, in a phone interview, denied that he stole other people's work or threatened any professors.
"It's been a blizzard of allegations," he said. "First, it wasn't my piece; second, it wasn't my book; third, it doesn't say I wrote it but helped assemble it.
Essay & statements
Click here to read Ward Churchill's essay, "Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens," as posted by a third-party political website. (The Denver Post does not endorse the website or views it expresses; the link is provided only as a reader service.)
Click here to read Churchill's Feb. 1 statement on the controversy.
Click here to read the University of Colorado Board of Regents' Feb. 3 resolution on the controversy.
Click here to read the Colorado House of Representatives' Feb. 2 resolution condemning Churchill.
Click here to read Gov. Bill Owens' letter on Churchill.
Click here for Churchill's academic webpage on the CU Department of Ethnic Studies website.
"There was no physical violence," Churchill added of an angry telephone discussion with Cohen over the dispute. "It was basically a severing of ties."
A CU investigation - headed by interim chancellor Phil DiStefano, College of Arts and Sciences dean Todd Gleeson and the law school dean - is supposed to end by Monday with a recommendation on whether Churchill can be disciplined or lose his tenure status for wrongdoing or scholarship that falls below the minimum standards expected of a professor.
Prof's attorney vows fight
Lane, Churchill's lawyer, has pledged that he would fight any effort to terminate Churchill, taking years and going to the Supreme Court if necessary. Settlement talks were aimed at avoiding that court fight, while still getting Churchill off campus.
A report by Andrews' institute also says that two former students claim Churchill retaliated against them when they criticized his views by lowering their grades. Churchill denies the charge.
Staff writer Arthur Kane can be reached at 303-820-1626 or akane [at] denverpost.com .