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Old 03-11-2005, 08:32 AM   #1 (permalink)
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University of CO professor Reprimanded

but it's ok, he's a conservative Christian. Nothing to see here, please move along...

Christian Professor Loses Job

by Steve Jordahl, correspondent

A University of Colorado professor has lost his teaching position because of his outspoken views and controversial personal beliefs—and it's not Ward Churchill.

Most Americans have no doubt heard of Churchill, the CU ethnic studies professor who compared the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to Nazis. But he still has his job.

Phil Mitchell, a conservative Christian, does not. His offense? He assigned his history class to read "In His Steps" by Charles Sheldon, the book which in which the phrase "What would Jesus do?" was coined.

Mitchell said he was immediately terminated when one student complained to the history department about the assignment.

"I called the director of my program on Monday morning," Mitchell explained, "and he confirmed that the department was going to let me teach one more year and then I would no longer be permitted to teach history at the University of Colorado."

When asked about Mitchell, a secretary in the history department—who asked that she not be identified—angrily responded, "We don't let him teach here."

This isn't the first time Mitchell, who has taught at CU for more than 20 years, has taken heat for using conservative sources in his classes. He said that when he quoted from Thomas Sowell, a conservative black commentator, the department head berated him and called him a racist.

Ron Robinson, president of the Young America's Foundation, said what happened to Mitchell is a pretty obvious case of liberal bias.

"They know what they're doing," he said of University of Colorado officials. "They're freezing out conservative ideas; they're freezing out conservative professors."

The timing of the controversy is especially odd, considering how the campus has rallied around Churchill.

"I think it's interesting," Mitchell said. "People are marching for Ward's academic freedom, and I think—to a point—that's legitimate. I just wish somebody would march for mine. I don't have any."

http://www.family.org/cforum/fnif/news/a0035825.cfm
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Old 03-11-2005, 08:39 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Before I'd pass judgment I'd like to know what purpose "In his steps" had in a history class.

Not knowing, I agree that it was wrong to fire him for that. But that is qualified by not knowing what kind of history class it was and the relevance of the book to the class.
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Old 03-11-2005, 08:49 AM   #3 (permalink)
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whoops - my mistake
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Old 03-11-2005, 08:50 AM   #4 (permalink)
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The problems this teacher has had over a span of 20 years were glossed over in this article.
Where are the details? We're supposed to get upset without any evidence?

But it doesn't really matter, a lot of the "rallying" behind churchhill is related to his being tenured--not his personal position. Support has less to do with him than it has to do with support of the kind of protections tenure was designed to ensure.

Was this teacher tenured?
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Old 03-11-2005, 08:59 AM   #5 (permalink)
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What smooth said and I'd add:

Correct me if I am wrong, but there is a significant difference between a professor expressing his opinion in public and a professor inserting material into a curriculum.
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Old 03-11-2005, 09:04 AM   #6 (permalink)
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http://dirwww.colorado.edu/whitepage...full=100052236

Small detail:

He was just a lecturer, without tenure or any rehiring rights whatsoever.

Absolutly no comparison with Ward Churchill, who had been tenured for what, 20 years?

If Ward Churchill had also been a lecturer, he would have been out on his a$$ in 5 seconds.

And Churchill probably will end up leaving, anyway:

Quote:
ECTION: NEWS; Pg. 10A

LENGTH: 315 words

HEADLINE: CU, CHURCHILL NEAR AGREEMENT;
SETTLEMENT WOULD END PROFESSOR'S TENURE, LAWYER SAYS

BYLINE: Charlie Brennan, Rocky Mountain News

BODY:
Attorneys for the University of Colorado and ethnic studies professor Ward Churchill are nearing an agreement on a financial settlement that would end his tenured professorship, according to one of Churchill's lawyers.

David Lane, one of the Denver lawyers representing Churchill, said late Thursday that a settlement could be reached "quickly."

"There has been no settlement at this moment," he added. "We have nothing at this point to comment on."

In response to suggestions that Churchill, 57, might not agree to a settlement unless he was allowed to complete teaching his spring semester classes, Lane said, "I don't think there are any sticking points. It's just a matter of drafting an agreement that's acceptable to everyone."

Churchill's annual salary is about $94,000. Lane did not give any indication of what financial terms were being discussed.

Churchill has been under fire since late January, when nationwide controversy erupted over an essay in which he sought to explain the possible motivations for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.

Many were angered by the essay's comparison of white-collar workers inside the World Trade Center to Nazi bureaucrats.

The CU Board of Regents on Feb. 3 directed Interim Chancellor Phil DiStefano to lead what was to be a 30-day probe into Churchill's voluminous writings and speeches to determine whether there is cause for him to be dismissed.

A university spokeswoman said earlier this week that the findings likely would not be known until at least Monday.

DiStefano's report, which could lead to a vote by regents on whether to fire Churchill, could be upstaged, however, by a negotiated settlement and buyout of Churchill's contract.

Lane has said that if CU moved to fire Churchill, he would likely answer with a lawsuit charging an infringement of Churchill's First Amendment rights.

LOAD-DATE: March 11, 2005
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Old 03-11-2005, 09:08 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Whew, this is sticky.

I don't see any problem with using conservative sources in university classes, any more than I see a problem with using liberal sources. But when you start injecting religion into unrelated disciplines it gets very sticky.

Is using Christianity as a perspective on, say, history, any different than using Marxist theory? I would say that to the extent that Christianity relies on faith and interpretation versus logic and empirical reasoning, yes, there is a difference. If the purpose of University is to teach people to engage critically with the world, then the kind of sources that are appropriate are those that have an intellectual and not a spiritual basis.

Comparing the victims of the World Trade Center bombing to "Eichmanns" is definitely offensive, but it's something you can engage with on an intellectual level. Asking "what would Jesus do" in a history class requires people to accept a particular faith-based standpoint that, IMHO, is inappropriate in an academic setting.
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Old 03-11-2005, 09:08 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I just checked the local news and the local paper and haven't been able to find anything on this.

What class(es) did he teach?

Could this have been pertinent to the class?

Hard to say without knowing what type of class this happened in.
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Old 03-11-2005, 09:12 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Oops, hadn't seen the other posts in this thread. Nice to see we're all making the same point.

In general I don't have much sympathy for academic administration, but this guy knew he had no rights whatsoever. I'm sure with his notoriety he can find another lecturer position at a conservative college, where he'd probably be happier anyway.
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Old 03-11-2005, 09:17 AM   #10 (permalink)
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To add: you gave us a very vague link from a pretty shady organization (Focus on the Family) that's run similarly to the 700 club.

You need to branch out a bit. This really shouldn't have been a thread. Much too filtered. (i.e. should have included some back up info from a more mainstream source)
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Old 03-11-2005, 09:54 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Hmm, yeah, I'm sure a lot of the support for Churchill was because of tenure. But don't think he didn't get censured in other ways...there's a lot of things the administration can do to punish a tenured prof.
And a lecturer who's been having 20 years of problems? I'm surprised he stayed that long...
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Old 03-11-2005, 10:13 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Is it me or has all the news coming out of CU lately been bad from the questionable academic assignments and inflammatory quotes, to the athletic department's misdeeds. Do they really have their heads up their collective asses, or is this the most ill-timed confluence of events ever?
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Old 03-11-2005, 10:24 AM   #13 (permalink)
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I get the impression that CU Boulder is in "cleaning house" mode.

If you live in Denver, you would probably understand my point more as CU is getting slammed by every news organization (print/TV/Radio) over all kinds of things.

What you hear nationally is just a fraction of what we hear locally, and it has been going on for several years.
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Old 03-11-2005, 11:12 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NCB
but it's ok, he's a conservative Christian. Nothing to see here, please move along...
Aside from the fact that no mods have told you to post an opinion with your link or that the thread will be locked, I agree that there is nothing to see here. Who cares?
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Old 03-11-2005, 12:33 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I saw this guy on O'reilly the other day. He says that he was lecturing on the protestant mindset or something along those lines, which rendered this particular book and the information it containd, relevant. He also stated the reason he wasn't tenured, was one of personal choice. He would rather be doing what he was doing.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,149901,00.html

Quote:
BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Unresolved Problem" segment tonight: Pressure is mounting on the regents at the University of Colorado to deal with radical Professor Ward Churchill (search), as you know. We were supposed to hear something this week, but the panel has now asked for a few more days to complete its investigation.

But another professor, Phil Mitchell, may lose his job because he is an evangelical Christian. At least that's what Mitchell believes. Phil Mitchell teaches history, has been at CU for more than 20 years and won an award for teacher of the year in 1998.

Professor Mitchell joins us now from Denver.

Now I've got to tell everybody that the University of Colorado is very worried about your appearance tonight here, Professor, and they're saying, no, no, no, your contract's been extended for the next academic year and no decision has been made. But you tell us from your point of view what's going on.PHIL MITCHELL, PH.D., UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO PROFESSOR: Well, I think probably the media frenzy over this has been helpful to my cause. But, about three weeks ago, I was informed by the director of the program I work for that the history department would no longer approve me as a professor in the program and that, after next year, I was terminated. So I immediately began to look for another job.

O'REILLY: Well, why? Did they — if you're teacher of the year in '98 and you've been there at CU for 20 years, why are they booting you?

MITCHELL: Well, I asked him that. I asked the director, who, by the way, was very supportive of me and in my corner. He said they gave a couple reasons. He said that several department chairs had said that my teaching is not up to the standards of the department and that I am too overtly Christian in the classroom.

O'REILLY: Did they give an example of what overtly Christian means?

MITCHELL: No. That didn't come through the scuttlebutt to me, no.

O'REILLY: OK. Now your — I understand your teacher evaluations from the students are A. Is that true?

MITCHELL: Every class at the University of Colorado and every professor is evaluated every year, so I have 21 years of these evaluations, and, yes, my students are very generous with me. I get A's and A-pluses in almost all my evaluations.

O'REILLY: OK. So there's no problem with the students.

MITCHELL: No.

O'REILLY: Now, I mean, I'm asking because I don't know. I've never taken your class. Are you overtly religious in the teaching of history?

MITCHELL: No. I am very fair — Dare I say fair and balanced? — in my treatment of religion in the classroom.

O'REILLY: Well, you can that if you want. Sure. Sure...

MITCHELL: And I think that virtually every student who has ever taken a class from me, whatever religious background and whatever political persuasion, would say that. In fact, a lot of them are saying it in e-mails to me and to various university people.

O'REILLY: OK. So what's the — what's the root of the problem now? You've got Churchill who's obviously a radical left being defended by at least 900 professors, and then you have you who — you are an evangelical Christian, correct?

MITCHELL: Correct.

O'REILLY: OK. So you feel you're in danger of losing your job. So what's going on at this university? Is this a left-wing jihad or what?

MITCHELL: Well, that's probably overstating it a little bit, but there is — at the university, I kind of divide my colleagues up into two groups. There are liberals, and there are leftists.

And the liberals are great people. They're open-minded, and they'd hire me, which is their most outstanding characteristic, as far as I'm concerned, and they are good educators.

And then there are people to the academic left who feel that certain points of view are a threat to the overall educational process, and they seek to stifle that.

O'REILLY: Now you don't have tenure at the college. After 20 years...

MITCHELL: That is correct.

O'REILLY: After 20 years, did you ever ask why you don't have tenure, why they didn't give you the protection they gave Ward Churchill?

MITCHELL: No, that was my choice. I chose to be an instructor level person at the University of Colorado because I love to teach and I love my students and I love being in the classroom, and, if you're an instructor, that's all you do, and so it's a choice.

O'REILLY: OK. So you didn't want to get on the tenure track?

MITCHELL: That is correct.

O'REILLY: Now do you believe in your heart that there are people at the university who want you out of there because you're simply an evangelical Christian and maybe a conservative guy?

MITCHELL: Yes.

O'REILLY: You do believe that in your heart?

MITCHELL: Yes.

O'REILLY: Can you back it up for the audience tonight?

MITCHELL: Yes. Well, I've had a number of incidents over the years that clued me into what was going to happen to me when I was in Boulder. Even before I came, I knew the reputation of the liberal academy. And just numerous incidents over the years.

In my very first class I was in, one of my colleagues, who's still at the university, said that if he had his way, he would put all fundamentalists in concentration camps, and so I knew that I was going to be in for a rough ride. I didn't know it would last 21 years.

O'REILLY: Yes! But, I mean, 21 years is a long — but what has happened recently for the — has — have things changed recently to put your job in danger?

MITCHELL: Probably a change of administration, but, also, there have been some complaints, a few complaints about some of the books that I use in the classroom, and I think that may have jeopardized my position at the university.

O'REILLY: Give me an example of one of the books.

MITCHELL: Well, one of the books I require to study 19th century Protestantism is "In His Steps" by Charles Sheldon (search), written in 1897, and it is the best book I know of to reveal Protestant liberal values at the turn of the century. It's a wonderful book, and I use it for a couple of days in the class, and it is a book that a student protested.

O'REILLY: OK.

MITCHELL: But most of my students love the book.

O'REILLY: All right. Well, you do have good student evaluations. So, look, here's what we're going to do. If they boot you, let us know. We'll talk to Governor Owens.

(LAUGHTER)

O'REILLY: We will. I mean — and they better have a reason why they're kicking you out of there, Professor. And we appreciate you taking the...

MITCHELL: Thanks a lot, Bill. I appreciate it.

O'REILLY: OK.
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Old 03-11-2005, 12:57 PM   #16 (permalink)
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This kind of crap is happening more and more every day. Kudos to this guy for bringing it into media spotlight. I can't stand the way that Christians get picked on in universities. It's a sign of the times....
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Old 03-11-2005, 01:24 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OFKU0
Aside from the fact that no mods have told you to post an opinion with your link or that the thread will be locked, I agree that there is nothing to see here. Who cares?
Nor are you getting in trouble for posting something that isn't related to the thread or for airing something in public that is best handled in PM's.

But hey, everyone here knows we're biased
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Old 03-11-2005, 01:29 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Well if what he's saying in the O'Reilly interview is true, then the "non-renewal of contract" (= firing) is disgusting. The reasons don't make any sense, and he's been a respected educator for 20 years.

But unfortunately he probably doesn't have a legal leg to stand on. Probably his only chance would be to shame them with publicity into keeping him on the payroll. He's doing exactly the right thing by taking it to the media. If they fire him, he could probably find an activist lawyer to embarrass them some more, which I would have no problem with whatsoever, if the details are as he describes them.

Bottom line, he is an excellent, talented teacher. And that was all he was required to be in his job.

All that said, this is not the same as the Churchill case, as has already been pointed out.
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Old 03-11-2005, 02:14 PM   #19 (permalink)
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While the proff wouldn't seem to have any practical legal recourse, he seems well aware of the climate there (most proffs learn this quick), and he seems to have taken the issue in stride in spite of O'riley trying to make it into the old "us VS them".

I'll grant him a modicrum of bitterness, I'ld be pissed if I got fired, my fault or not.

If he included the book for the stated reason, then it sounds fine to me. (Never read the book, never took the course so I could be way off)
We go over stuff that I find offensive in class, but in the context, it has always made sense.

Self-concious is walking into the pub library and handing the nice, older, black woman there the copy of "Toms, Coons, Mammies, Mulattoes, and Bucks" I needed for theory this year.
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Old 03-11-2005, 03:13 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Raveneye, it's be cheaper and easier to fire Churchill for plagarism....

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7156384/
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Old 03-11-2005, 05:43 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by smooth
But it doesn't really matter, a lot of the "rallying" behind churchhill is related to his being tenured--not his personal position. Support has less to do with him than it has to do with support of the kind of protections tenure was designed to ensure.
Yeah--Professors' paychecks.
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Old 03-12-2005, 02:20 AM   #22 (permalink)
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KMA,

Can you drop a little insight from a Colorado perspective? Also, since there's more news there can you give us some context?

Also, is there any major differences in perspective between Boulder and Denver? I am under the impression that they are very different cities.
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Old 03-12-2005, 04:50 AM   #23 (permalink)
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What the heck is going on here? It has been my experience that people who call themselves liberal are usually very tolerant of differing ideas. I am surprised by the professor's remarks below from the Fox interview regarding "leftist" intolerance. I would normally think that the tolerant viewpoint would be dominant and the professor could continue teaching.
Quote:
MITCHELL: Well, that's probably overstating it a little bit, but there is — at the university, I kind of divide my colleagues up into two groups. There are liberals, and there are leftists.

And the liberals are great people. They're open-minded, and they'd hire me, which is their most outstanding characteristic, as far as I'm concerned, and they are good educators.

And then there are people to the academic left who feel that certain points of view are a threat to the overall educational process, and they seek to stifle that.
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Old 03-12-2005, 10:51 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Boulder is to Colorado as Berkely is to California--it is fair to say that these are the most liberal towns in these states.

However, Boulder is a gorgeous city. One of the major projects I worked on was in Boulder, so I was pretty much up there every day--for the most part, I like Boulder (better looking women than Denver too, but I digress)

Some more news came on the radio this morning: The local news radio station is reporting the CU Boulder suddenly called off the "buyout" talks (with no explanation why), but they added "all options are still on the table". They are reporting that the talks were stopped because of the plagiarism charges and the teacher scuttling charges--but that is purely conjecture as this information is not new, if these things were bad enough to stall talks, the talks never should have happened.

Here are the issues they (they being the media) cite with Churchill: Plagiarism, making up facts for his research papers (some of them), scuttling another teacher (a Canadian), given the job under AA (his minority status is in dispute), intimidation of students that disagree with him, and being given tenure as a gift, not earning it (he got tenure really quickly).

Rather than requote the media, here are come links to the local news here in Denver with "churchill" search terms:
The Rocky Mountian News
The Denver Post
9news - Local NBC

Plus, more news about CU Boulder, some pretty heavy accusations of racism (odd for such a liberal school and town).
Charges of racism at CU Boulder


As I mentioned, the media here has their targets on CU Boulder, and have for quite awhile:

1) Rape
2) Sexual Harassment
3) Football Recruiting: Underage drinking/hookers, etc
4) Many questions about School expenditures ($500,000 worth of alcohol bought from a company owned by somebody that works at the school or has some association with the school)
5) The Churchill story
6) And the new racism story

There's more, but that's all I can think of off the top of my head.

Around here, you pretty much get tired of hearing about CU.

While I won't force my kids to go/not go to a certain college, I will obviously discourage them from going to CU--there are many other colleges here in Colorado that are better, in my opinion.

Edit: Interestingly enough, the story about the Christian teacher losing his job gets ZERO media play here in Colorado. I have only seen this story on the link in this thread and the O'Reilly interview.

I find that a little odd since we get a daily diluge of CU stories around here--but no one is talking about this particular teacher.
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Old 03-12-2005, 05:08 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Thank you KMA, for your brief summation and overview. It is well structured and organized. I found it to be very helpful. Further, it really opens up insight into the issues there.

I also find it weird that the Mitchell story got so little coverage. I appears (to me) to be a double standard, or the media fell asleep, or thought the story wasn't "juicy" enough. All very poor reasons in my opinion.

What ither colleges are in the area besides CU at Boulder?
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Old 03-12-2005, 05:45 PM   #26 (permalink)
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The media in Boulder is pathetic. The only reason the Churchill issue has been such a hot topic here (I live in Boulder) is because it was so big nationally. If the Mitchell issue had received such national coverage, you would certainly have seen exactly the same amount of coverage in the Boulder media.

Overall, I'm rather pissed at CU in regards to Churchill. It's a total witch hunt. That they would even offer a buyout, and that they've taken it off the table now because they might be able to find a cheap way out of a public relations issue, is pathetic. They know they should be standing behind Churchill, whether they agree with his opinion or not - but instead, they're looking for anything that will get them out of the spotlight. At this point it wouldn't shock me to find out the IRS is going to audit the man.
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Old 03-12-2005, 05:51 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Manx
The media in Boulder is pathetic. The only reason the Churchill issue has been such a hot topic here (I live in Boulder) is because it was so big nationally. If the Mitchell issue had received such national coverage, you would certainly have seen exactly the same amount of coverage in the Boulder media.
While I am not a big fan of the local media here, this is not an accurate statement.

As I mentioned earlier, CU Boulder has been in the news, a lot, and not just for Churchill (see my list above).

Most of these issues see very little national airtime, but we hear quite a bit about them around here.

Of all the criticism levied at CU Boulder (above and beyond Churchill), there isn't even a whisper, locally, about Mitchell.

Are the other charges against Churchill a witch-hunt? Do you know if they are true or not? Does it even matter to you?
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Old 03-12-2005, 07:53 PM   #28 (permalink)
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While I am not a big fan of the local media here, this is not an accurate statement.
Yes, it is an accurate statement. The statement is that if Mitchell had received as much national media attention as Churchill, the Boulder press would have given it as much attention as it has Churchill.
Quote:
As I mentioned earlier, CU Boulder has been in the news, a lot, and not just for Churchill (see my list above).

Most of these issues see very little national airtime, but we hear quite a bit about them around here.
I am well aware that there are events that take place in Boulder that are reported in the local news and not reported nationally. That does not make my statement inaccurate. Churchill did not deserve national or local coverage, Mitchell does not deserve national or local coverage. Churchill received national coverage because his essay was quickly misquoted into a very shocking sound bite. As a result, he received local coverage of epic proportions. Mitchell has no sound bite, he has no national coverage, he has no local Boulder media coverage. Though you might hear something from Wayne @ The Boulder Weekly ... but he'll jump on anything, so who knows.
Quote:
Are the other charges against Churchill a witch-hunt? Do you know if they are true or not? Does it even matter to you?
Whether they are true or not has no bearing on whether this is a witch hunt. The other issues only became important when it was determined that CU public relations would be "better" if Churchill could be fired. An 8 year old plagarism accusation from someone in Denmark? Suddenly his heritage is in question? Please. There is no question that CU prefers to get rid of Churchill - if this were not the case, they would not have been looking to buy out his contract. And that's the issue - CU absolutely should not be trying to get rid of Churchill, they should be supporting him as much as possible. Any possible questions on his history should be very specifically placed on a back burner by CU until they have successfully, and rightly, defended him as he is being attacked for his essay. CU should have released a statement to that effect long ago. But they didn't, because they're sell outs. Reprehensible. I too would discourage my children from going to CU - specifically because the administration has such disdain for academe.
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Old 03-13-2005, 09:10 AM   #29 (permalink)
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Just my opinion, but the value of a degree from this school is becoming laughable. Talk about extremism, this is wild!!
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Old 03-13-2005, 03:58 PM   #30 (permalink)
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To return to Dr. Mitchell . . .

I just re-read the thread opener article and the editorial below that I found in the Denver Post (dated March 8).

http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,...748616,00.html

If you read carefully you will see that Dr. Mitchell was NOT fired. He is still on the payroll, but is not allowed to teach courses in the history department.

When you consider that probably hundreds of non-tenured professors are dismissed every year, for all kinds of ridiculous reasons, and that Mitchell was not fired, just reassigned, then it is no surprise that this is not a big story.
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Old 03-13-2005, 08:09 PM   #31 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by squirrelyburt
Just my opinion, but the value of a degree from this school is becoming laughable. Talk about extremism, this is wild!!
FYI,

Whatever I feel about the number 1 party school or for that matter, the People's Republic of Boulder in general, CU is commonly acknowledged to be among the leaders as far as the astro-sciences goes.
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