Colorado Supreme Court upholds CU dismissal of Ward Churchill

Published: Sept. 10, 2012
The Colorado Supreme Court on Monday affirmed rulings by the Colorado Court of Appeals and the trial court in favor of the University of Colorado Board of Regents in connection with the dismissal of CU ethnic studies Professor Ward Churchill in 2007. 
The court “accepted as fact” that CU properly investigated and adjudicated acts of plagiarism, fabricating evidence and violations of the university’s academic standards by Churchill. 
The 54-page ruling said that the Regents’ termination of Churchill was “a quasi-judicial act entitled to protection by absolute immunity.” In so doing, the ruling relied upon the determinations of faculty committees that Churchill engaged in repeated acts of intentional academic misconduct.
The court also upheld the denial of Churchill’s request to be reinstated and for front pay, concluding that reinstating Churchill to the University of Colorado would undermine its ability to enforce standards of academic integrity.
CU-Boulder Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano hailed the court’s ruling in an official statement. 
“Today’s decision by the Colorado Supreme Court upholds the high standards of academic integrity practiced every day by our faculty, and helps us to ensure the quality of instruction for all our students,” DiStefano said. “It is vital that what is published and what is taught in the classroom be based on research and scholarship grounded in honest, accepted and time-tested methods. This was always what was at stake in this case for the university, and the winners today are our faculty and students.”
CU President Bruce Benson agreed, saying that the high court had unanimously upheld Judge Larry Naves’ rulings “in the University’s favor.”
“The court determined that it would be wrong for Ward Churchill to return to a CU classroom because, as several CU faculty panels found, he engaged in repeated, flagrant acts of academic misconduct and dishonesty,” Benson said in a statement. “Because academic integrity is at the core of the University’s mission, today’s ruling is a victory for all CU faculty and students.”
Churchill was dismissed from the university in July of 2007 on a recommendation by then-CU President Hank Brown to the Board of Regents. The Board voted 8-1 in agreeing with Brown’s recommendation to dismiss Churchill.