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Local professor chastises CU for Churchill firing 

Alexander Soifer, currently a mathematics and film studies professor at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, regularly speaks out through faculty e-mail against the Board of Regents' recent decision to fire faculty member Ward Churchill.

Soifer is one of few on campus willing to comment on the situation, and he does so with substantial knowledge of how the university system works. From 1990 to 1991, he served as chair of UCCS' Privilege & Tenure Committee, which, among other duties, considers advised dismissals referred by the chancellor or president.

When the Boulder campus' P&T group was approached regarding claims of plagiarism, falsification and fabrication of evidence against Churchill, an ethnic studies professor, the committee recommended against dismissing him. But Tuesday, July 24, regents voted 8-1 to fire the tenured professor.

Churchill first made headlines with a 2001 essay in which he compared victims of 9/11 to "little Eichmanns." In an interview last week, Soifer said Churchill continued to be singled out even years later because of that reference.

"Other faculty is not exposed to such intense scrutiny," he says.

Soifer adopted speaking out about the Churchill situation as a personal mission. During his time on the P&T committee, Soifer wrote three regulations that were accepted by the regents, and he also had numerous recommendations implemented by the university.

He calls the regents' disregard for recommendations to keep Churchill on faculty "hypocritical."

"How can they use P&T when profitable, and ignore it when not?" he wonders. "They shouldn't cite the president's office as supporting the P&T committee when they ignore recommendations."

Numerous members of the UCCS community tense up at the mere mention of Ward Churchill. Some claim ignorance about allegation details; others just flat-out refuse to relay their opinion on the decision. The silence that engulfs the campus, Soifer says, may prove dangerous to the future of scholarship at UCCS.

"They don't understand that when one person loses academic rights, we all do," he says.

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