Churchill’s attorney promptly called a news conference Monday afternoon to announce that his client does intend to appeal to the tenure committee. He also mentioned going to court.
Churchill, who ignited a firestorm by calling some of the World Trade Center victims "little Eichmanns" in an essay he wrote after Sept. 11, 2001, has vowed to sue the school if he was fired.
"We’re going to a real court because we can trust juries to do the right thing," said Churchill’s attorney David Lane. "Churchill says this all completely bogus. Let’s see if a jury and a Federal District Court agrees with the committee. Or see if everything that’s happened here is retaliation for Ward Churchill’s First Amendment free speech relating to 9/11."
The tenured professor of ethnic studies has repeatedly denied all accusations of misconduct.
He told The Associate Press in mid-June, "The basic situation here is that there was a call by high officials in the state, notably the governor but hardly restricted to the governor, for my termination clear back last February, whether or not it was legal. They were willing to take the heat and go to court if necessary to stand behind an illegitimate investigation."
When his essay was brought to light in January 2005, Gov. Bill Owens, state lawmakers and relatives of Sept. 11, 2001 victims in New York immediately denounced it. University officials concluded Churchill could not be fired for the essay, but in March 2005 they launched an investigation into allegations of plagiarism and other research misconduct.
"A committee last year began to look at his writings including his essay on 9/11," said DiStefano. "We determined his writings were protected under the First Amendment. However, during that process there were allegations of research misconduct."
Last month, an investigative subcommittee concluded that Churchill repeatedly fabricated his research, plagiarized others’ work and strayed from the "bedrock principles of scholarship."
Churchill called the investigation "a kangaroo court" designed to reach the conclusion that he should be fired.
"A university is a marketplace of ideas, a place where controversy is no stranger," said Distefano. "An opinioned discourse is applauded. But as is true of all liberties enjoyed by all Americans with freedom, comes responsibility."
Owens supported the chancellor’s decision in a statement Monday. "I applaud the Chancellor’s decision. If the university is the marketplace of ideas, then Mr. Churchill is the rotten fruit among hundreds of good apples," Owens said. "Hopefully we can say good riddance to Ward Churchill once and for all."