Internal discussions at Colorado University are centering on a buyout offer to controversial professor Ward Churchill in order to quell the tempest caused by his characterizations of victims of Sept. 11, 2001, as “little Eichmans” and to avoid a costly, drawn-out lawsuit, the Denver Post reports.
David Lane, Churchill’s attorney said he had not yet received word of such an offer, but he would consider it.
“If they offer $10 million, I would think about it. If they offer him $10, I wouldn’t,” Lane said.
As WorldNetDaily reported, Churchill has most recently come under fire for making an Indian-themed serigraph in 1981 called “Winter Attack” that actually was the work of another, now-deceased, renowned artist. Churchill printed 150 copies, some of which were sold through galleries.
Colorado regents have authorized an internal review of Churchill’s writings and speeches to determine if he should be fired. A decision is scheduled for the week of March 7, although Churchill could appeal if the university terminates his employment. Such a dismissal, even if not mired in the controversy surrounding Churchill’s case, could last years and inpose expensive legal costs.
Since Churchill entered the media spotlight, questions about plagiarism, false claims of military service and his status as a Native American have been raised. The most recent revelation of the misappropriated art appears to have motivated the discussion of a buyout at this time.
Daily publicity has taken its strain on Colorado University faculty, as well. The university is pursuing the 10 to 20 percent of staff and faculty who have failed to sign the state’s required loyalty oath. All employees must affirm they will uphold the U.S. and Colorado constitutions. Churchill, hired in 1991, had not signed the oath prior to the recent controversy.
Two hundred members of the faculty have taken out an ad to appear in the Boulder Daily Camera calling on the university to drop its inquiry. The full-page ad defends Churchill’s “right to speak what he believes to be the truth.”
“It is going to be extremely difficult, if academic freedom is on the block, for us to hire and keep good faculty members,’ said Margaret LeCompte, an education professor. “We’re all thinking twice about what we’re saying.”
The regents, however, would like to end the inquiry being conducted in the press, on the Internet and talk radio, believing its continuance will cause long-term damage to the school’s reputation.
“The possible damage to the university this controversy has created will take years to recover from,” said Regent Peter Steinhauer.