University of Colorado-Boulder Gets Failing Grade in Academic Freedom

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The Colorado affiliate of the American Association of University Professors has accused its state’s flagship university of hostility to academic freedom and recommends that scholars accept employment at the school only as a “last resort.” The charge stems in part from the University of Colorado-Boulder’s refusal to renew the 2007 contract of Phil Mitchell, an adjunct history professor at CU for more than two decades whose Christianity and political conservatism alienated him from colleagues.

“Mitchell was terminated for exercising his best professional judgment in his classroom,” the report of the Colorado Conference of the AAUP determined. “Furthermore, his rights to free expression were not recognized.” The organization points out that the University of Colorado’s published policy on academic freedom doesn’t differentiate between tenured and untenured professors.

The university had initially fired Mitchell in 2005, but rescinded the termination after a media uproar. In an appearance on The O’Reilly Factor that year, Mitchell explained 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.” Curiously, the AAUP found that Mitchell had won more teaching awards than the entire faculty of the special program in which he had taught and earned the highest student evaluations of any professor in the history department despite grading practices that placed him among the tougher half of history professors. The report, authored by AAUP officers and CU academics Don Eron and Suzanne Hudson, explains that “there is no evidence in [Mitchell’s] file that he was attempting to convert students to Christianity or to political conservatism, or forcing his opinions on them.”

Following the failed 2005 attempt to oust Mitchell, hostile colleagues began zealously compiling information on which to base his subsequent firing, the AAUP claims. Part of this involved vigilant classroom monitoring. “While standard practice is one yearly observation, Mitchell was observed seven times in a three semester period.” The campaign also included contacting a University of Massachusetts professor, who had been a teaching assistant of Mitchell’s fifteen years earlier, and inquiring whether he had ever heard Mitchell make any anti-gay remarks. The AAUP contends that the “four peer reviews since 2005” were basically “facsimiles of each other—reflecting the same talking points.” The report bluntly notes: “These reviews certainly do not read like disinterested evaluations; they read as if they were written to get someone fired.”

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  • Bikeguy41

    I don't know what ads other readers see when they log into this page, but I find it somewhat ironical that the University of Phoenix, Co,mminity College of Denver, Th Art Institutes, and Westwood College are paid advertisers on this page.

    • Herman Caintonette

      That's your cookies speaking.

    • Joe

      What ads?

    • Beth

      I see that (and on other websites also) It's peculiar, for sure.

  • sod

    It's another proof the universities in this country are infested by lefts and the proformance of the young men at OWS is the fruit of their doctrine.

    • Herman Caintonette

      At least, they are literate. You, not so much.

    • ngw

      No one in congress can be charged with insider trading

  • Elsie E Connelly

    I can tell you from experience that U of Colorado-Boulder is much the same as the University of Nebraska. Conservatives are not welcome here. I am surprised that the AAUP is on the side of the conservative in this case. I am a staff member and have been told by Administration, that I am not allowed to have an opinion, especially since my opinion is contrary to the Liberals that run this insitution. There's a lot of stuff that has been swept under the rug here.

    • Herman Caintonette

      Nubrasqua — where the "N" on the helmet stands for knowledge.

      • Herman Caintonette

        Speaking of which, how 'bout you Bugeaters taking care of the Wolves this weekend, eh?

      • marsconi

        So, hotshot, where did you go to school? Had to be some expensive East Coast bastion of the Left given all the undeserved arrogance and condescension you've displayed here! Your parents must be so proud!

  • http://theophilogue.wordpress.com theophilogue

    I'm ashamed of UC. They should get in step with American Pluralism and be more tolerant.

    • Herman Caintonette

      But you are not ashamed of the propagandists at FPM, Townhall, RedState, and other institutions which routinely engage in viewpoint-based censorship, right?

      "Censorship reflects a society's lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime. Long ago those who wrote our First Amendment charted a different course. They believed a society can be truly strong only when it is truly free. In the realm of expression they put their faith, for better or for worse, in the enlightened choice of the people, free from the interference of a policeman's intrusive thumb or a judge's heavy hand."

      Ginzburg v. United States, 383 U.S. 463, 498 (1966) (Stewart, J., dissenting).

      I take delight in challenging the immaculate preconceptions of people like those who inhabit this site, who are so safe in their dogmatism that they will never let opposing arguments disturb their peace. I celebrate the rabble-rousers, on both right and left. “Every idea is an incitement.” Gitlow v. New York, 268 U.S. 652, 673 (1925) (Holmes, J., dissenting).

      CU behaved badly during the Ward Churchill saga, and they appear to be making the same mistake here. Better to let ideas clash than swords.

  • xlent

    Hermie the TRUTH would set you free.

  • Herman Caintonette

    The AAUP sees the bigger picture. You don't need the First Amendment to protect your expression of the opinion that kittens are cute. If it doesn't protect the speech you loathe, it is of no value … and by not protecting that speech, you create a precedent which will eventually silence you. I'm in this prof's corner, too.

  • marsconi

    Interesting that you get the larger point. My experience is that liberals really don't believe in freedom of speech.

  • StephenD

    Herm,
    Wonder of wonders. I agree with your post. Is today it? Is it the end of life as we know it??
    Hey, even a broken clock is right twice a day.
    I hope this isn't a fluke and you are coming to your senses.

  • StephenD

    I saw that and commented accordingly. Thanks for the heads up Cuz!

  • Herman Caintonette

    One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter, and the perspective of the victim is quite different. Frederick Douglass put it this way:

    "The only penetrable point of a tyrant is the fear of death. The outcry that they make, as to the danger of having their throats cut is because they deserve to have them cut."

    Frederick Douglass, Letter (to James Redpath), Jun. 29, 1860, as reprinted in, Frederick Douglass: Selected Speeches and Writings 396 (Philip S. Foner, ed., Yuval Taylor, 1999).

    If the potential price of tyranny becomes too high, no one would want to be a tyrant.

  • Herman Caintonette

    Conservatives aren't big on it, either.

  • Herman Caintonette

    I don't advocate it; I merely observe that if it becomes necessary to deter a tyrant, it is not out-of-bounds. It's like MAD, in the sense that an all-out nuclear reprisal would almost certainly end all human life on the planet. No one thinks twice about our right to do so, if we are attacked. How is the killing of a tyrant's children any different, Chez?

  • marsconi

    You're full of it. Think Juan Williams, Hank Williams, Rush Limbaugh, any conservative professor, etc. Where are your modern examples, hot shot? It's easy to say "…so are you" but where's the beef? By the bye, I've been around libs all my life and the one thing I think is a universal with them and that is they are to their core intolerant! Free speech advocates! Yeah, right! Keep dreaming!

  • marsconi

    It's interesting that if you talk privately with a lib they always tell you what they really think, and it's never pretty!

    Think we should open more abortion clinics in the inner cities? I'm betting your vote is yes!

  • Herman Caintonette

    You num-nuts don't even know your own damned religion. It would be no different than your psychotic, bloodthirsty excuse for an ancient tribal sky-daddy murdering the first-born sons in every Egyptian family. If it is wrong, YOUR GOD is wrong.

    Denounce YHWH, and I'll take you seriously.

    You know I've been setting you up for that, don't you?

  • mrbean

    Allah will get you. I put the Arab curse on you. May the fleas from a 1000 camels find a home in your crotch.

  • Beth

    You're a hypocrite Herman "killing Jewish kids is morally legitimate" Caintonette

    Taught in your koran:

    047.004 Beheadings
    033.052 Gang Rape of female 'infidels'
    005.041 Racism
    005.033 Crucifixions
    008.067 Treason
    033.061 Genocide "without mercy"

    You have YET to address that crap

  • Beth

    "If the potential price of tyranny becomes too high, no one would want to be a tyrant"

    Spoken like a true muslim Herman "killing Jewish kids is morally legitimate" Caintonette

    I hope there are proper authorities looking at these posts. You are obsessed with killing children – even by "slitting their throats". You're a prime candidate (upon looking at your words) for carrying out what this world calls "terrorism" – but is actually mass murder…..genocide, as is commanded in your koran.

    you are evil to the core

  • Beth

    lols

  • Beth

    so true