Academic freedom, tenure and Ward Churchill
I have been interested in the ongoing saga of Ward “little Eichmanns” Churchill for quite some time. And I am not alone, do a quick search of the InsideHigherEd site and you will find a lode of articles and commentary.
Here are some of the links that caught my eye:
- A recent posting that explores the possible results of firing Churchill for plagiarism (the internal BU faculty review recommendation) and a possible chilling effect on freedom of speech. I would especially note the comments…they get pretty funny at times
- An older article on the Truth and Consequences – a pun that actually works here.
- The CU special reports page where the actual source documents can be found
After reading the committee’s reports, I found a lot of the commentary to be verbal dysentery. The committee, while elitist and snooty to the Ethnic Studies department, did a good job of teasing out freedom of speech from poor academic work (he plagiarized). What was missing, though, were the TurnItIn.com Originality Reports, which I would like to see.
A few culled excerpts (source):
· “As one example, Professor Churchill stated in his response to the Investigative Committee that ‘I doubt that any even marginally prolific scholar’s publications could withstand the type of scrutiny to which mine has been subjected.’” -- Sure, poison the well for other lazy academics.
· An overarching question that emerged in our discussions is whether different scholarly "standards" apply in ethnic studies than in other more
traditional fields, such as history.
· Professor Churchill's academic background and choice of publication venues are untraditional. Although many of his writings, including nearly all those discussed in this report, address historical and/or legal issues, he does not have formal training at the graduate level in those fields. Professors writing on the topics he addresses would typically have a Ph.D. in history or a law degree; Professor Churchill's graduate degree is an M.A. in Communications Theory.
· Many of Professor Churchill's publications predate his employment as a tenured Associate Professor at the
It seems that Churchill was the victim of not submitting a paper according to the (often unwritten) rules of “scholarship.” That is, he is not the typical child of the academy and will be punished for that.
One should know his place.