Institutional Dementia: CU Plans to Challenge Ward Churchill’s Reinstatement

As if oblivious to the significance of the victorious lawsuit brought by Ward Churchill against the University of Colorado (CU), failing to recognize that a jury has just found CU guilty of trying to stifle the freedom of speech of an academic, CU plans to “vigorously challenge” Ward Churchill’s effort to get his job back…the one he was never supposed to have lost in the first place. In response, Ward Churchill’s attorney, David Lane said the following:

A jury of their peers has convicted them of being constitutional violators. They should not be fighting against the truth but should be trying to implement procedures that will vigorously protect the Constitution. (source)

Of course, that is what CU’s leadership would be doing, if it consisted of rational, civil, democratic persons with an enlightened outlook, rather than ideologues who belong in the Twilight Zone. CU’s leadership is bent — bent on demonstrating that it will not accept reality, that the only party found guilty here is CU itself, guilty of misconduct of the highest order. As if to highlight the institutional dementia that has set in, Ken McConnellogue, a spokesman for CU, offers some pompous and hypocritical verdicts of his own, again as if no trial had just happened:

CU’s reputation for academic integrity is the foundation for all we do and having him return to the classroom would be an ongoing threat to that reputation. We expect higher standards from our faculty and our students. We respect the jury’s decision, but we have an issue with Mr. Churchill’s professional conduct no matter what the jury decided. (source)

What a thankless task this McConnellogue has in having to defend a university guilty of attacking free speech, and using the very words and ideas that the jury in Churchill’s case might have written about CU itself. His absolutely blank countenance betrays the possibility that he too might be in a state of disbelief that he has to mouth the words of an administration in a state of denial.

What academic integrity has CU shown in its persecution of Ward Churchill? Where was academic integrity in assessing a massive corpus of work, by reducing it to seven “infractions” as it misconceived them? What high standards could CU’s leadership be thinking about, when it cannot even bear to tolerate speech that is not within the mainstream norm? Where was the professional conduct when right wing hacks influenced, pressured, and worked from within the university to violate the Constitutionally protected freedoms of one of its faculty? Are they kidding? Do they really think that none of us just finished witnessing the trial that just ended?

For his part, while seeking reinstatement Ward Churchill has said that in the final analysis it will be up to him whether to take back his job if Judge Larry Naves so orders on May 2nd. Churchill told a reporter that he would first have to assess if CU still lived up to his standards, saying the university had “degenerated to a not very glorified vo-tec, a trade school” (source). That is a generous opinion, given the questions above.

If his quest for reinstatement is not successful, Churchill will seek at least one million dollars in pay he would lose by not having his job, plus CU can look forward to paying its attorney, Patrick O’Rourke, $500,000 for his legal fees, and perhaps Ward Churchill’s legal expenses as well, which approach the one million dollar mark as well. Free speech is priceless, and quashing it is very expensive. But, CU cannot even learn this lesson.

The video that follows addresses the issue of costs:

Juror Bethany Newill speaking on television news about the jury’s verdict:

7 thoughts on “Institutional Dementia: CU Plans to Challenge Ward Churchill’s Reinstatement

  1. Pingback: When Reality Strikes: Ward Churchill on Radio « OPEN ANTHROPOLOGY

  2. Frenchguy

    I think I have it Max. The guy is not kidding. He is true to his chiefs’ opinion. I’ll underline it :

    “CU’s ***reputation*** for academic integrity is the foundation for
    all we do and having him return to the classroom would be an ongoing threat to that ***reputation***.”

    Then, clearly, it is the reputation of CU that matters for them, and not academic integrity in itself.
    It means CU can illegally fire a good scholar, make its rotten case by relying on flawed and contradictory testimonies made by assholes, with as ultimate supporters a bunch of racist and hatred-filled right-wingers, and loose a trial that proves CU to be violating constitution.

    It seems all that is absolutely OK for CU. What is much more important than some fuzzy and frivolous things called integrity, free speech and constitution is “reputation”. Yeah, that must be the important thing.

    (By the way, I’m pretty sure that when black students entered US universities for the first time, there were concerns about those universities'”reputation”.)

    1. Maximilian Forte

      “Reputation,” exactly, thanks very much for making that point. I was so focused on what struck me as naked hypocrisies that I missed the recurring motif, reputation. It is a provincial view of reputation that they have then, because sticking to the kind of reputability that makes them a favourite in a relatively right wing state like Colorado, represents somewhat of a loss of reputation more globally.

      Well, what can I say: it’s their grave, and they have to lie in it.

    2. tali

      Right on Frenchdude! That’s what I was looking at. I also love the highly contradictory “We respect the jury’s decision, but [blablabla] no matter what the jury decided.”

      An a completely different subject, I’m curious as to what Churchill’s students have to say about their professor. I just had a forum conversation with a guy who studied under Allen Dershowitz, he said:

      “I did have Dershowitz as a prof. He was one of the worst I have ever had in my academic career. He taught nothing, on the rare occasions he did teach, it was just from cases he had handled, and he was never available since he was too busy working on his private practice. I learned no criminal law at all, but I did learn a lot of great jokes, which was all he seemed to be interested in.” (

      From watching Churchill’s lectures on google video, I really became envious of his students. Lively, controversial, thought provoking, engaging and knowledgeable, just the professor I wish I had. You’d think a university would look at that aspect of their employees…

  3. Maximilian Forte

    Tali, as you will see in my newest post about Ward Churchill at Concordia, I get an impression of Churchill’s pedagogical style that helps to explain why he has been so popular with students and has won teaching awards.

    Contrary to popular video clips and photographs, that show him shouting, snarling, angry, and hostile — Churchill is actually a rather soft spoken man who has an excellent sense of humour, speaks without rancor, and respectfully addresses many different opinions. When he disagreed, it was without a hint of any personal animosity. You will be able to see this for yourself from the video I will put up later today.

    Also, and this is quite irrelevant: he is smaller than he appears to be on television, not as tall, and not as husky.

    1. tali

      Lol! It’s funny you say that, because coupled with his booming voice he does seem huge (of course I’m 1.64 meter, so practically everybody seems huge to me :p ).
      I’ll be looking forward to that video. I really just enjoy his style.

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