Owens says state tenure laws may need review | SummitDaily.com

Owens says state tenure laws may need review

DENVER – Gov. Bill Owens said Thursday that state laws on tenure may need a review but not wholesale changes as long as universities follow the rules they have in place.Addressing newspaper editors and publishers from across the state, the governor rejected suggestions from University of Colorado President Elizabeth Hoffman that state officials rein in criticism of professor Ward Churchill.Churchill, a tenured professor of ethnic studies, set off a firestorm after he wrote that some “technocrats” killed in the World Trade Center were “little Eichmanns,” a reference to Adolf Eichmann, who organized the Nazi holocaust.Hoffman told lawmakers that demands for Churchill’s job are complicating a university examination of whether he overstepped the bounds of academic freedom, and she warned that the clamor could help Churchill if he is fired and then sues.Owens said any state official can be sued over hiring and firing decisions and that should not limit criticism of Churchill.The governor said CU’s tenure code requires that professors be competent and have integrity. He said if the code is enforced, it’s sufficient to ensure professors are treated fairly.Owens said the questions surrounding Churchill do not center on his right to free speech, but whether the university and Churchill are following the rules of tenure.”It’s not really what he said, but what he’s been doing, if he acted with integrity,” Owens said.”There is obviously a question whether that carefully thought out peer review was followed,” Owens said.The governor suggested lawmakers next year might want to look at all tenure policies at state universities to make sure they are fair.

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