Weak Grades for Ward Churchill
by Christopher Flickinger
Human Events
Posted Aug 5, 2005

America’s favorite professor is taking a disappointing report card back to his tepee.

Ward “I really am an Indian” Churchill, who teaches at the University of Colorado at Boulder, received a disturbing message from students concerning his performance during the spring 2005 semester. According to student evaluations made available to the public, Professor Churchill’s most recent grades are anything but great. Churchill received lower marks in each of the three classes he taught last spring compared to the grades he earned for those same classes in previous semesters.

The university asks its students to rate professors in a variety of categories. These evaluations are used by the student body for selecting courses and instructors, by professors so they can improve on their teaching and by deans and department chairs for promotion, tenure, salary and course-assignment decisions. 

In Churchill’s "Topical Issues in Native North America" class students were asked to “rate this course compared to all your other university courses.” Churchill received a “C” compared to the “A” he earned for that class during the fall 2004 semester. Students were then asked to “rate this instructor compared to all your other university instructors.” Churchill received another “C” compared to the “A” he got in the fall. When it came to the “fairness of his grading policies,” again Churchill’s grade dropped from an “A” to a “C.” The professor’s most notable grade drop came when students were asked to, “rate the accessibility of the instructor.” Churchill received a “D+” for the spring semester. That’s down from the “B+” he earned during the fall.

The next two categories reveal a less dramatic drop in score, but pose a somewhat ironic situation considering that “Chief Churchill” is still listed as the chairman of Ethnic Studies in the university’s department phone directory. When students were asked to “rate the instructor’s treatment of ethnic minority and female students,” they gave Professor Churchill a “B” instead of the “A+” he earned in the fall. Finally, when asked to “rate how the course addressed issues and information about women and ethnic minorities,” Churchill’s students handed him a “B-,” which was lower than the “A-” he received during the fall semester.

Regarding the tenured professor’s other two classes, "American Indians in Film" and "Indian/Government Conflicts," Churchill received lower grades in a majority of the categories.

Professor Churchill told The Daily Camera that his low scores in “accessibility” were attributed to an “endless swarm of ambush journalists” who were “continuously intruding into my work environment, thus pre-empting the time I tried to devote to my students.”

The media feeding frenzy Churchill’s referring to came after his shocking and disturbing essay concerning 9/11. He claimed that those who died in the World Trade Center attack were not innocent victims. The tenured Colorado professor is currently under investigation by the university’s Standing Committee on Research Misconduct for allegations of plagiarism, misuse of other’s work and fabrication, and research misconduct by misrepresenting himself as an American Indian to gain credibility and authority for his work. According to the Rocky Mountain News, Churchill describes himself as a member of the Keetoowah Cherokee Tribe in Oklahoma, but a tribe spokesman says he’s not in the database and is not a member of the Keetoowah.

Human Events e-mailed Professor Churchill and asked if he would be interested in speaking about his poor performance evaluation during the spring semester. Churchill sent the following reply:

Even if Human Events were in some way genuinely conservative, which it isn't, I'd not be interested in wasting time on an interview on your proposed topic (is basically a yawn).

Do better.

Professor Churchill’s professionalism practically jumped off the page. It’s hard to believe a student would give the professor any grade lower than “A”. The words he used to close his e-mail, “Do better,” were inspiring. His dismissive tone was refreshing and much needed. Can you believe the arrogant nature of Human Events to even question Mr. Churchill’s performance evaluation? Who cares if he works at a public university and is compensated with tax dollars? Asking Professor Churchill to account for his dismal report card was simply inappropriate!

On a more serious note, for his students’ sake, Professor Churchill should resign and let another instructor who is less distracted take his position. The professor can’t honestly think his schedule is going to lighten with pesky reporters still asking questions, speaking engagements across the country and an on-going university investigation into his affairs.

But, Churchill will most likely stay in spite of the poor education his students are now receiving. If or when his name is cleared of any wrong doing and the media attention surrounding him goes away, he’ll soon be able to get back to his lifelong passion – inspiring future generations. 
    
However, as a side note, when the professor’s Indian heritage is proven (we’ll hope for the best), he should seriously consider changing his name. “Professor Ward Churchill” doesn’t exactly scream of Indian ancestry, and it holds little, if any, significance. I would suggest a more suitable name: “Professor Loose Cannon,” “Dr. Looka-lika Hippie,” “Chief Big Ego Little Brain” or possibly, “Professor Smoke Rise From Tepee But No One Home.” Any one of these names would guarantee the professor at least one letter grade higher on his next report card since students would know not to expect much from the outset.

 


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