DENVER – A University of Colorado (search) professor who provoked a furor when he compared victims of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks to Nazis resigned as a department chairman on Monday but will retain his teaching job, the university said.
In an essay written in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Ward Churchill (search) said the World Trade Center victims were "little Eichmanns," a reference to Adolf Eichmann, who organized Nazi plans to exterminate Europe's Jews. Churchill also spoke of the "gallant sacrifices" of the "combat teams" that struck America.
The essay attracted little attention until Churchill was invited to speak at Hamilton College (search), about 40 miles east of Syracuse, N.Y.
Churchill resigned as chairman of the Ethnic Studies Department, telling university officials in a letter that "the present political climate has rendered me a liability in terms of representing either my department, the college, or the university."
University officials welcomed the move.
"While Professor Churchill has the constitutional right to express his political views, his essay on 9/11 has outraged and appalled us and the general public," interim CU-Boulder Chancellor Phil DiStefano said in a statement.
Susan Ramirez, a secretary at CU's ethnic studies department, said Churchill would appear at the college for a panel discussion titled, "Limits of Dissent." Churchill did not immediately return a message.
Hamilton President Joan Hinde sent an e-mail to faculty on Sunday, repeating the position that "however repugnant one might find Mr. Churchill's remarks," the college was committed to his right of free speech and would not rescind its invitation.
Hundreds of relatives of Sept. 11 victims have protested Churchill's upcoming appearance. William Doyle of 9/11 Families for a Secure America said people in the New York City region may charter a bus to the event.
Administrators have moved Churchill's appearance to a building that can seat 2,000, instead of the originally planned 300.