“Politics” involved in professor’s firing

A jury ruled last week that a University of Colorado professor was wrongfully terminated, and a New York Times columnist says Colorado officials had their judgment clouded by politics. Stanley Fish, a law professor at Florida International University in Miami, wrote in his April 5 Times column that a University of Colorado committee fired faculty member Ward Churchill largely because of his controversial comments following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The university’s committee members said they terminated Churchill for scholarly malfeasance — "playing fast and loose with the facts," Fish writes. After reading the committee’s report on Churchill’s alleged academic dishonesty, Fish writes that the criticisms were commonplace in academia. "The accusations that fill its pages are the kind scholars regularly hurl at their polemical opponents," he writes. "It’s part of the game. But in most cases, after you’ve trashed the guy’s work in a book or a review, you don’t get to fire him." Churchill drew national attention after writing that Americans killed in the World Trade Centers in 2001 were agents of the country’s "global empire."

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