BOULDER, Colo. — It’s going to take more than getting fired to stop former professor Ward Churchill from teaching at the University of Colorado.
The ex-professor was back on campus Tuesday at the invitation of students to teach an unsanctioned course, “ReVisioning American History: Colonization, Genocide and Formation of the U.S. Settler State.”
Always a popular figure on campus, Mr. Churchill, 52, was met with applause by the 30 or so students and well-wishers who attended the first session.
“This course is an entirely voluntary exercise for all parties involved,” Mr. Churchill said. “It carries no credit, fulfills no institutional requirements, involves payment of no tuition, entails no paycheck to its instructor.”
Student organizers reserved a classroom at the Eaton Humanities Building for the unofficial course. According to the syllabus, Mr. Churchill will teach every Tuesday evening through the month of October, with class topics to focus on colonialism, genocide and racism.
Mr. Churchill ignited a national outcry for an essay comparing September 11 victims to Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann. In July, the university’s Board of Regents voted 8-1 to fire him for unrelated academic misconduct, including plagiarism and fabricating research.
His supporters accused the university of violating Mr. Churchill’s free-speech rights. The professor, who had been chairman of the Ethnic Studies Department, has since filed a lawsuit challenging his dismissal.
“We were deprived of his teachings and critical analysis of common thought,” Aaron Smith, a 24-year-old senior political science and ethnic-studies major, told the Campus Press, the student newspaper. “I disagree with the decision to fire him.”
The university released a terse statement yesterday emphasizing that Mr. Churchill is no longer employed as a professor.
“Any CU student is at liberty to invite Ward Churchill to campus to speak, but this should not be viewed by anyone as a resumption of employment or of his former professorial role at the University of Colorado at Boulder,” the statement read.
Not everyone was welcome at the event. A newspaper photographer and several students described as “agitators” were turned away by event organizers, according to the Boulder Daily Camera.
Attendees also were warned to leave recording devices, including cell phones, at home.
Jessica Peck Corry, who heads the Independence Institute’s Campus Accountability Project, called it “ironic” that Mr. Churchill’s class would be closed to the public, given his claims of free speech during the fight over his dismissal.
“It’s certainly offensive that someone who’s as much a free-speech activist as Ward Churchill is prohibiting people from hearing him speak,” Mrs. Corry said.
c This article is based in part on wire service reports.