Another (Short-Term?) Win for Ward Churchill

Committee studying misconduct allegations rejects another set of charges, but serious accusations remain.
September 8, 2005

A University of Colorado misconduct committee has rejected a set of allegations that were made against Ward Churchill by the family of his late ex-wife.

Churchill is once again claiming that he has won a victory, but the most serious charges against him remain alive. Churchill, an ethnic studies professor at the university's Boulder campus, has been under investigation since a furor arose over controversial statements he made comparing

The Denver Postreported Wednesday that a faculty review committee had examined and rejected charges that Churchill made inaccurate statements in the preface to a book by Leah Kelly, his ex-wife. Colorado officials are not commenting on or releasing any committee findings. But the Post article reported that the chair of the faculty panel wrote to Churchill last week, as follows: "I have concluded that these allegations, even if true, do not represent research misconduct. It is not the function of the committee to address any inaccuracies that may exist in a faculty member's writings."

The faculty committee could recommend that Churchill lose his tenure. But last week's determination was the second in which Churchill has been cleared of charges. Last month, the panel rejected accusations that Churchill fabricated his ethnicity (he says that he is Native American, but many dispute that or say that his Indian ties are minimal).

David Lane, Churchill's lawyer, declined to release the letter Churchill received from the faculty committee, but he confirmed that the Denver paper reported on it accurately. Six charges of research misconduct remain against Churchill.

"As they go through all of this, the panel is seeing that a lot of the allegations against him are complete nonsense. Ultimately, I think all of the charges will be set aside," Lane said.

Some of the most serious charges of research misconduct -- involving attribution questions and accusations that Churchill misrepresented other scholars' work -- remain under review. Churchill has repeatedly said that he did nothing wrong and that the accusations amount to disagreement with his political views. But some of those who have made the charges that remain are respected scholars and share Churchill's view that Native Americans have been seriously mistreated by the United States.


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