• November 1, 2014
November 01, 2014, 1:37:59 AM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with your Chronicle username and password
News: Talk about how to cope with chronic illness, disability, and other health issues in the academic workplace.
 
Pages: 1 [2] 3
  Print  
Author Topic: When NOT to STFU  (Read 11096 times)
niceday
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 2,974


« Reply #15 on: April 29, 2012, 1:41:48 PM »

It's not just altruism to intervene in this case. If you let this bully chase away all good people and determine the direction of your department, your department is going to suck.

And you have tenure. This one is a no-brainer for me. It's not a case of STFU. Others have given you good advice on how to intervene. Warn the junior person, collaborate with sane colleagues to neutralize the bully, set-up anti-bullying mechanisms, etc.
Logged
shrek
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 1,948


« Reply #16 on: April 29, 2012, 1:50:11 PM »

I don't know how your department works, but at ours, excellent teaching, good research, and required service would be enough to get someone tenure.  You wouldn't have to put in an appearance at the reading groups or the departmental parties.  I shudder to think about being officially penalized because I haven't appeared at some party or other.


No, they're not penalized for not going to those things. But, by not going to those things I think they miss opportunities for making connections that could be helpful for them and their work. One of our reading groups has been an incubator of sorts where all kinds of connections are made that have turned into collaborations. No it's not about missing a party or journal group. Rather it's about missing almost every single opportunity over a 5 year period to hear people in related areas present their developing work, to get feedback on your own work, and to grow intellectually.
Logged
hegemony
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 4,210


« Reply #17 on: April 29, 2012, 2:44:43 PM »

Are you sure it's the bully that has caused this person not to attend these things?  Maybe they're just shy, or inclined to be solitary.  I'm a little worried about your insistence that they have to do these things to be viable.  If the career's going fine anyway, why not just let this person determine his or her own path?
Logged

Tragedy tomorrow, comedy tonight.
shrek
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 1,948


« Reply #18 on: April 29, 2012, 4:11:54 PM »

Are you sure it's the bully that has caused this person not to attend these things?  Maybe they're just shy, or inclined to be solitary.  I'm a little worried about your insistence that they have to do these things to be viable.  If the career's going fine anyway, why not just let this person determine his or her own path?

I'm sure. And no, they're not assured of tenure. The record is good, not great. And they don't have funding. Teaching is stellar however. But, we're in an R1.  They can go or not, but they don't so their voice is not represented. I don't insist-- I've encouraged mainly usually to no avail. I've insisted for very specific events. But ultimately the department is made up of people who participate in its governance and who have an influence on its direction. Cutting oneself off completely means that others will fill the void. It may be a coping strategy but it's not good for the department or for someone's long term career. Not participating means that others will have to do the additional work. For a while, that's okay. We certainly insulate the junior faculty from doing much committee work and they have no administrative duties. But it is good to be seen in some things and they're seen in none. Not even when we have general information meetings with graduate students and that sort of thing. No, they don't need to go, but over time it's noticed.

The department vote will be all-1 for, the bully will abstain or vote no (most likely abstain because like most bullies they're also a coward in a group situation). At the college level, IF the bully (who comes off as very very charming) has gotten to the other members of the faculty (who have never seen our young colleague in any social or academic venue) I worry they'll be inclined to vote no on a case that might be on the bubble-- hopefully that won't be the case. A couple of us on faculty and a couple others nationally have been trying to work on projects wtih them so that they can get their productivity up and I think it's worked. They had gone into a period of time where they were completely unable to do anything at all-- likely influenced by the bully. If they'd spoken up sooner I think we could have joined forces sooner.
Logged
hegemony
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 4,210


« Reply #19 on: April 29, 2012, 4:29:18 PM »

I think, then, the best way forward would be to lay it out for the faculty member.  "We haven't seen you at the X seminars or the Y reading group.  I know sometimes being sociable is problematic, and some faculty worry about some of our more abrasive voices, Jack Bully, for instance.  So it would be no wonder if some people were hesitant to attend.  But here's the bottom line.  You're a great colleague and a great teacher and your research is promising and we'd love to keep you around.  I devoutly hope we can.  And even if you look for greener pastures elsewhere, being tenurable here can only be good for your career.  But to get tenure here, it helps a lot to make the contacts at the X seminar and the Y reading group.  I worry that you're underneath the radar on these things.  You absolutely have every academic quality to get tenure here, and I want to put that in the bag.  I think that would mean starting to come to the X and Y.  Is there anything I personally can do to make that more appealing for you?"
Logged

Tragedy tomorrow, comedy tonight.
ruralguy
Super Duper Zillion Star Member
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 6,677

Full Prof; STEM; SLAC; Rural US


« Reply #20 on: April 29, 2012, 4:45:52 PM »

I think I am right in line with almost everything hegemony has said.

To a large extent, the fate of this faculty member is in his or her own hands (after all, you said he/she was not GREAT. At an R1, I suspect thats the kiss of death ,it can even be so at my so-so SLAC as well!).

In any case, yup, the only two things you can do are to suggest that this person attend at least some of these events (but of course then you'd have to be there too, or else the entire line of reasoning will fall apart), and then defend the tenure case as much as you feel justified to do.

Then, I think you and others have to go to this bully and tell him (I assume "him") to stop it immediately, or you'll report him to the Dean, and if he publically humiliates anyone, you'll call campus security every time he does it to get him physically removed.
Logged
lizzy
a person who likes to believe that what comes around goes around and a
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 4,845


« Reply #21 on: April 29, 2012, 4:48:12 PM »

I think, then, the best way forward would be to lay it out for the faculty member.  "We haven't seen you at the X seminars or the Y reading group.  I know sometimes being sociable is problematic, and some faculty worry about some of our more abrasive voices, Jack Bully, for instance.  So it would be no wonder if some people were hesitant to attend.  But here's the bottom line.  You're a great colleague and a great teacher and your research is promising and we'd love to keep you around.  I devoutly hope we can.  And even if you look for greener pastures elsewhere, being tenurable here can only be good for your career.  But to get tenure here, it helps a lot to make the contacts at the X seminar and the Y reading group.  I worry that you're underneath the radar on these things.  You absolutely have every academic quality to get tenure here, and I want to put that in the bag.  I think that would mean starting to come to the X and Y.  Is there anything I personally can do to make that more appealing for you?"

This--a frank conversation that lets your colleague know about potential hurdles for tenure and also demonstrates your willingness to help. Your colleague may well be searching for another job, but that doesn't mean s/he will find one, or that the current situation can't be salvaged.

I think it bodes well for the future of your department that you and (from what you've said) other faculty members are doing your best to nurture junior faculty. Hopefully, your combined efforts will help to neutralize the bully.
Logged

I get cranky in the evenings.
shrek
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 1,948


« Reply #22 on: April 29, 2012, 5:39:49 PM »

Then, I think you and others have to go to this bully and tell him (I assume "him") to stop it immediately, or you'll report him to the Dean, and if he publically humiliates anyone, you'll call campus security every time he does it to get him physically removed.

If only they were this obvious. They're not--they come off as charming. They ask to "meet" with people to chat about their career and offer help and support. They tell faculty members things about other faculty for their "own good" so that they know what's what. Once the faculty member is completely isolated is when the more obvious bullying starts. But by then the person is so caught up in it they don't know who their friends are.
Logged
ruralguy
Super Duper Zillion Star Member
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 6,677

Full Prof; STEM; SLAC; Rural US


« Reply #23 on: April 30, 2012, 9:57:58 AM »

Shrek-

I am not sure how this amounts to bullying or when the bullying occurs. Could you explain that?

It sounds like these folks are being a tad controlling and viperish, but that in itself isn't bullying, though I suppose it could lead to it.
Logged
shrek
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 1,948


« Reply #24 on: April 30, 2012, 11:44:06 AM »

Shrek-

I am not sure how this amounts to bullying or when the bullying occurs. Could you explain that?

It sounds like these folks are being a tad controlling and viperish, but that in itself isn't bullying, though I suppose it could lead to it.
It starts out like I describe. It then leads to a "collaboration" where the junior faculty member is doing all the work (and the bully is the first author). There are repeated instances of threats by pulling rank, intimidation, spreading rumors about the rest of the faculty that further isolates the target and rumors about the target, undermining the work, asking for documentation that is really unnecessary in a collaborative relationship, then "approving" or not approving and then asking for more, repeated vicious comments directly or indirectly (sometimes under the guise of a compliment, but really nasty-- so, "for a xxx you really do fairly good work," "aren't you lucky that you are an xxx, I'm certain that's why yyy was funded." This person will meet with doctoral students individually and then make nasty comments about their work and about their advisor's work and their advisor's ability to appropriately supervise them, they will ask the doc students (not their doc student's--others') to send them copies of their work in progress under the guise of helping them and then start making denigrating comments about the work and the supervisor in question-- often a junior faculty member. They repeatedly remind the junior faculty that they will be voting on their tenure-- usually when there's a disagreement. They insist on being a co-author on everything that has been discussed even in passing and then remind them that their career is at stake. It's subtle but it's repeated and constant.

The attempts to intimidate one's doc students has happened to me as well, I just told them to back off that stealing doctoral students may well be a tradition, and if my student wanted to switch advisors they could, and then could start another project. The junior faculty don't have the nerve to do that.
Logged
larryc
Troll Proof
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 23,003

Be excellent to each other.


WWW
« Reply #25 on: April 30, 2012, 2:05:18 PM »

How long has this been going on? Is everyone aware of the pattern?

I know of a department where the faculty have an agreement to guide incoming grad students away from their one colleague who behaves in a similar fashion. It saves them from a lot of drama.
Logged

Trolling for sex is not what this forum is all about.
ruralguy
Super Duper Zillion Star Member
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 6,677

Full Prof; STEM; SLAC; Rural US


« Reply #26 on: April 30, 2012, 3:46:55 PM »

I am not sure what can be done, since a lot of this isn't particularly overt.

I think the word has to be spread that you are not to work with this person or let a student work with this person. Doing so is the kiss of death.
Logged
tortugaphd
Senior member
****
Posts: 674


« Reply #27 on: April 30, 2012, 7:37:47 PM »

In a situation like this, the grad students themselves are often the best at mentoring and advising one another regarding who to have as an advisor and who to avoid.  Chances are, if bully has lashed out at junior faculty, they have lashed out at grad students, too.  Grad students tend to keep one another appraised of their bad experiences with faculty members.  I know that has been true in my department, at least.
Logged
tortugaphd
Senior member
****
Posts: 674


« Reply #28 on: April 30, 2012, 7:39:39 PM »

Sorry for the double posting, my screen froze.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2012, 7:43:29 PM by tortugaphd » Logged
pedanterast
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 2,337


« Reply #29 on: May 01, 2012, 1:18:52 AM »

Also, you need a plan to deal with the bully--marginalize, warn others, discredit.

Sounds like gossiping and rumor mongering to me.  Seldom have I disagreed with you more, assuming you are serious.  A campaign to discredit a (purported) bully sounds a lot like a bullying campaign to me.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2012, 1:21:22 AM by pedanterast » Logged
Pages: 1 [2] 3
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.9 | SMF © 2006-2008, Simple Machines LLC Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!
  • 1255 Twenty-Third St., N.W.
  • Washington, D.C. 20037
subscribe today

Get the insight you need for success in academe.