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Mar 7, 2005 4:22 pm

CU Chancellor Resigns ...

Local media in Colorado are reporting the resignation of University of Colorado Chancellor Betsy Hoffman as of 30 June. Here are the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News stories and related links. Thanks to Chris Levesque in comments for the tip.

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Jonathan Rees - 3/9/2005

My definition of a hack is anybody who is appointed to the position because of their politics rather than their experience with university administration. Tim Foster in Grand Junction qualifies as a hack, by this definition. Do you know how big his salary is? It's obscene. So does Mark Holzman at DU. If Bill Owens wanted to appoint Ralph Nader as President of CU, he would qualify as a hack under this definition, but we know that isn't going to happen, don't we?

Hank Brown may know how to run a university, but that does not make him the best person for the job.


Jason Nelson - 3/9/2005

Mr. Luker,

I said that he had a "liberal" defended, only because this was the word he used.

Yes, I am glad. I love honest, honorable, fair-minded people where ever they live and whatever they believe. I have a personal rule I try to live by. I don't have to agree with someone to respect them.

Ralph E. Luker - 3/9/2005

I wasn't jumping to conclusions. Aren't you glad he had a "left-wing" defender for as long as he did?

Jason Nelson - 3/9/2005

I know its only his word again, but according to this professor, the reason that he was employed for so long was that his "liberal" chair was dilligent in backing him up, sometimes defending him against others who were less reasonable. At this point the chair told him that there was nothing more he could do. To jump to any conclusions based on how long he taught there is unwise.

Ralph E. Luker - 3/9/2005

It goes without saying that I condemn the abuse of adjuncts! In fact, we don't know what caused that particular adjunct's contract to be non-renewed. Institutions are not obliged to give a reason for non-renewal of adjuncts. Mr. Nelson is only reporting what the adjunct, himself, said. But since he had been employed as an adjunct for many years, it seems unlikely that the reason was simply ideology, partisan politics, or religious.

Jonathan Dresner - 3/9/2005

For what it's worth, I agree with several of Mr. Nelson's points: that adjunct (and other untenured) faculty should have as much right to academic freedom -- the professional respect that their qualifications merit and intellect guided by conscience within the confines of the discipline [yeah, that's awful, but it's early here] -- and that it appears that the non-renewal was based on "political" (and that's a term we need to clarify or abandon, because in this case ideological/cultural matters seems to be at issue rather than partisanship) issues.

I would add my own belief that, while there is technically no tenure for adjunct faculty, an institution has a moral obligation to treat its long-term "casual" employees with respect and fairness. That should include the creation of tenure-track positions when a position has been filled with adjuncts for an extended period of time (my union, for all my carping about it, did win this concession in our last contract, but hasn't come to full agreement with the institution about implementation yet) and careful consideration of the economically difficult position of non-tenured instructors.

Jason Nelson - 3/9/2005

I am not speaking of the law. I am asking if there is any moral outrage out there. If going after Churchill is wrong than so is this. I don't care about the legal issues, I know there is nothing to be done about this. It doesn't make it any less reprehensible.

Ralph E. Luker - 3/9/2005

Mr. Nelson, I have _been_ an adjunct professor and, like the one you cite, had my contract non-renewed. It isn't that I am unsympathetic to his situation. Why wouldn't I be? I experienced the same thing. All I'm telling you is that tenure gives Churchill legal standing, whether you like him or not; and lack of tenure gives the adjunct professor no legal standing, whether you like him or not.

Jason Nelson - 3/9/2005

If you are against people losing their jobs over what they say then any fair minded person would not just make this an issue over tenure. I believe this man was fired for what he had to say. Doesn't acedemic freedom apply to him, or only to the tenured?

Ralph E. Luker - 3/9/2005

Unfortunately, Mr. Nelson, the professor to whom you refer is an adjunct faculty member. He does not have tenure, even though he's taught at CU for many years. An adjunct faculty member may have his or her contract non-renewed at any time, without explanation or appeal. Churchill is a tenured faculty member, who therefore must be accorded due process.

Jason Nelson - 3/9/2005

To go the the link, the Denver Post article, you must cut and paste the entire link into your browser. Im sorry, I dont know how to post links properly and clicking on this link does not bring the article up. Please take a look at this article, I think its important to consider this stuff in the context of the Churchill discussion and also in the broader discussion of the sanctity of acedemic freedom and the limits of said freedom. Do you really have a "freedom" if it is not universally applied?

Jason Nelson - 3/9/2005

I wish that all of the concerned acedemics that are reading this would follow the spirit of their asserted principles and email CU to protest this clear indication of a trecherous double standard. Check this out.,1413,36%257E31908%257E2748616,00.html

Why should Churchill be protected under the auspices of "free speach" when this kind of reverse McCarthyism is taking place all over the country, and specifically at CU? This professor is not a revolutionary who encourages and agitates violence and murder. But..he is religious and must be silenced. How can this be defended? Will anyone among you even try?

I would love to see at least a tolken effort from someone to condemn this bigotry. I know that I certainly do.

Richard Henry Morgan - 3/9/2005

I don't think that's entirely fair. From my reading of events, she was pressed with the question whether there was ANY context in which the word was not offensive. I don't think she offered it in defense of the actions of university officials.

Jason Nelson - 3/9/2005

Is the use of the word "hack" in this context similar to the use of the word "hack" used by some Democrats this weekend when refering to Alan Greenspan? Can a liberal be a "hack"? Im just curious. My heart tells me that one can, but I don't see standards applied both ways in this discussion. Seriously, if Hoffman, a liberal "hack" and a terrible administrator is replaced by a Republican "hack" who can actually run a university, what is the problem? That the overwhelmingly liberal to radical faculty won't respect him or her? Hank Brown is my choice. We know he can run a university. He happens to be Republican, but so was Hoffman, at least that is how she is registered.

Jason Nelson - 3/9/2005

I believe that this resignation is a result of a culmination of all of the above mentioned examples of bad leadership. However, here is a prediction. In some ways it was a pre-emptive resignation. She has probably signed off on a ridiculus buy-out of Churchill. This will become public in the next few days, and when it does there will be outrage in Colorado. Hoffman will not have to answer for the outrage, she has already resigned. This is a cowardly move by a less than able administrator. She is a captain abandoning ship in the middle of a storm, nothing more.

Chris Levesque - 3/8/2005

I'm pretty sure she would have survived if she had canned the football coach, Gary Barnett. Oh, and if she hadn't offended every woman in the state with her attempt to claim that certain offensive terms describing the female anatomy could be considered a "term of endearment", and then hid behind her field to excape the faux pas.

Richard Henry Morgan - 3/8/2005

I've never had a beef with Hoffman. It just seems to me she burned her last bridge to the legislature with her ill-considered remarks, and I think she realized that, and that the university would likely take a hit if she remained, if only as a petulant expression of dissatisfaction with both the problems and her comments. I think it was out of service to the university that she resigned.

I don't see the gloating in that, nor in any other thing I've said on the subject. People have been fired for a hell of a lot less than the problems surrounding CU. That's life. The captain of the ship, even if blameless (or relatively so) is held responsible for what happens on his watch. Give her credit for seeing that she was no longer is a position to lead, given her relations with the legislature.

Ralph E. Luker - 3/7/2005

... speaking of ungracious compounding ... For g_d's sake, you've got her resignation, Richard. What more do you want? You are sounding like some of the gun-loving critics of Michael Bellesiles after his forced resignation: turn him like a roasting pig over an open fire. It's called "gloating." What she has demonstrated is that she loves the University. That is much more than either Ward Churchill or his conservative critics can claim.

Richard Henry Morgan - 3/7/2005

I think Hoffman had taken a principled stand on the Churchill affair, saying she would defend free speech, but that other matters of conduct were subject to review and discipline, and that no shield of free speech would prevent that. For someone as careful and thoughtful as that to then lump all legislative critics of Churchill into a McCarthite camp was really pretty careless. She had baggage from the football and sex scandals, the lawsuits therefrom, the grand jury recommendations, the CU Foundation mess (and its connection to the football scandals), the failure to deal with the AD problem in a timely fashion, and then the bastion of Rocky Mountain liberalism, the Denver Post, conspicuously deserted her and hung her out to dry. She had some problems on her watch, not all of her own making, and then her mouth compounded them.

Robert KC Johnson - 3/7/2005

I think she would have survived if it hadn't been for the football scandal, but her remarks Thursday comparing the GOP legislators who have criticized Churchill to McCarthyites (remarks from which she then backtracked) pretty much ended her effectiveness in dealing with the legislature. This was sort of a Summers situation in reverse: even if she believed the claim, it was highly impolitic for her, as the university head, to have made the statement.

Robert KC Johnson - 3/7/2005

I fear this will happen as well. I haven't been impressed by Owens' handling of this issue.

Jonathan Rees - 3/7/2005

Owens pressures the regents to replace her with a Republican hack. I hope I'm wrong.


Ralph E. Luker - 3/7/2005

I agree that the football scandal was the key. On the Churchill inquiry, it seems to me that, for the most part, she was sounding the right notes. There's not much doubt that some little Joe McCarthys have been buzzing around the Churchill thing.

Robert KC Johnson - 3/7/2005

The football scandal obviously was key, but it seems to me that after she implied that Churchill's legislative critics were McCarthyites, she had lost any chance to lead the University effectively.

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