University regents mum on Churchill
A day removed from Ward Churchill’s victory in a Denver courtroom, the University of Colorado’s elected leadership remained mum on the verdict and the future of the controversial former ethnic studies professor.
Tilman “Tillie” Bishop, longtime Grand Junction resident and vice chairman of CU’s Board of Regents, was among a host of CU officials who declined to speak about the outcome of Churchill’s civil trial, citing unresolved legal issues with the case.
“Our counsel has advised regents not talk to media,” said Ken McConnellogue, a spokesman for the CU system.
A jury Thursday unanimously ruled Churchill was fired in July 2007 in retaliation for his essay on the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He was awarded $1 in damages.
Bishop declined to comment on courtroom testimony from Churchill’s trial attributed to him in a Friday Denver Post column by Mike Littwin. According to Littwin, Bishop told jurors he didn’t know what Churchill’s “Little Eichmanns” essay had to say about some victims of 9/11.
Bishop, when asked if for all he knew the victims were compared to Boy Scouts, reportedly replied, “Yes.”
“I laughed, the jury laughed,” David Lane, Churchill’s attorney, said Friday. “So you’re saying none of your constituents have ever asked you about this essay? Absolutely preposterous.”
Churchill’s essay, “Some People Push Back: On The Justice Of Roosting Chickens,” was penned the day after 9/11 and compared some victims of the World Trade Center attacks to “Little Eichmanns,” a reference to Adolf Hitler’s henchman, Adolf Eichmann, a designer of the Holocaust. The essay didn’t cause an uproar, though, until 2005, prior to a speaking engagement at a New York university, which canceled the engagement after learning of his essay.
Churchill was fired in 2007 after a CU investigation turned up evidence of plagiarism and found various instances of academic fraud.
While CU’s leadership was silent Thursday, the school’s alumni in Grand Junction had plenty to say.
“It’s unfortunate the school will be faced with so much expense, but that’s how it goes,” said Herb Bacon, a Grand Junction resident and 1951 CU graduate.
Bacon said the jury’s $1 damage award is a “pretty good indication how he’s ranked as far as alumni’s concerned.”
David Turner, a local attorney who graduated CU’s law school in 1979, called the jury’s decision “almost irrelevant.”
“The damage has already been done to the university and its academic reputation,” Turner said.
Denver Chief District Judge Larry Naves is expected to rule on whether Churchill will be awarded back pay or reinstated as a professor.