Published: June 1, 2009

Former ethnic studies professor Ward Churchill was unlawfully fired from the University of Colorado for expressing his political beliefs, a Denver jury decided April 2. But the jury only awarded the professor $1 in damages.

Churchill ignited a heated national debate over academic freedom, patriotism and academic integrity in 2005 when an essay he wrote about the 9/11 attacks received national attention. In his essay he compared victims of the World Trade Center attacks to “little Eichmanns,” which led the university to launch a two-month investigation into whether his work was protected under the First Amendment.

While the university found Churchill’s work was protected by the First Amendment, it decided allegations of plagiarism, fabrication and research misconduct warranted a separate investigation. He was fired in 2007 for academic misconduct, including ghostwriting pieces for peers and then citing those works as support for his own theories.

A Denver district judge will decide whether Churchill gets to return to the classroom or is financially compensated. CU also will have to pay Churchill’s legal fees.