CU unveils proposal on reviewing tenure in wake of Churchill furor
DENVER – The University of Colorado regents and faculty are expected to unveil a proposal Thursday to review the tenure process, but it likely won’t include the kind of changes sought by critics of professor Ward Churchill, whose comments about Sept. 11 victims ignited a national furor.Regents and faculty leaders contacted Wednesday declined to discuss the initiative, but said it doesn’t involve rolling back protections aimed at preserving academic freedom.”Absolutely not. I wouldn’t be a party to that,” said Rod Muth, CU Faculty Council chairman.Regent Tom Lucero said the intent is to strengthen tenure and “instill confidence in the general public and everybody else that the process is what it should be and needs to be.”Regents and faculty members have said a review of the tenure process is in order because of the issues raised by Churchill’s case. The furor erupted in January after a student newspaper at a New York state college publicized a 3 1/2-year-old essay by Churchill likening some World Trade Center victims to Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi bureaucrat who organized the Holocaust.A few colleges canceled appearances by Churchill, a tenured ethnic studies professor on CU’s main campus in Boulder. Gov. Bill Owens called on CU officials to fire him and suggested the Legislature consider setting statewide standards for tenure rather than leaving it to universities.House Minority Leader Joe Stengel, R-Littleton, has urged an evaluation of the tenure process, which he faulted for allowing Churchill to rise through the ranks.Tenure, usually granted after years of review of a faculty member’s work, spells out grounds for dismissal and the process, which includes appeals. Professors can still be fired, but the intent is to enable them to deal with controversial subjects without fear of political reprisal.A review of Churchill’s work to determine if he should be fired or face discipline is being conducted by acting Boulder Chancellor Phil DiStefano and two deans and is scheduled for release Monday.A Look at Work in the Legislature on Wednesday- The House Agriculture, Livestock & Natural Resources Committee approved Senate Bill 62 to limit the amount of water whitewater parks can lay claim to, a measure which pits a growing tourist draw against the state’s ability to plan for future water storage. The measure limits future water parks to up to 350 cubic feet of water per second. Mountain communities and kayaking outfitters argue that the “one-size-fits-all” approach won’t work because the width and depth of rivers vary so greatly that in some areas it wouldn’t produce rapids that would attract visitors. Rep. Diane Hoppe, R-Sterling, said some water parks could use as much water as 3,000 families in a year and said water courts need guidance on which rules to apply.– The full Senate gave initial backing to asking voters to let the state keep an estimated extra $3.1 billion over five years to prevent predicted cuts in state services like higher education. The Senate will vote on House Bill 1194 before sending it back to the House where members will decide whether to agree to the changes made in the Senate.- The Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources & Energy Committee killed House Bill 1043 that would have doubled fines for speeding in wildlife crossing zones. Rural lawmakers from both parties joined together to defeat the bill, which had passed in the House. Wildlife advocates argued the hike in fines would have encouraged people to slow down and be more alert, saving the lives of animals and preventing injuries to drivers and their cars.- The Senate Appropriations Committee backed Senate Bill 200 to increase school spending by 1.1 percent, 1 percent plus inflation of 0.1 percent as required by Amendment 23. Sen. Sue Windels, D-Arvada, had pushed for 1.5 percent increase because she said the inflationary increase didn’t really provide schools enough money to keep up with costs. – The Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee backed House Bill 1218 that allows bicyclists to ride two abreast when they won’t impede traffic and to ride through crosswalks rather than walk their bikes across. The measure, which was passed by the House, now goes to the full Senate.
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