the terrifying vision of institutional evil
Hugo Meynell, F.R.S.C.


130-page Appendix:
Essays in Response
Philip Mathias
Robert B. Young
Yeager Hudson
Charlotte Spivack
Anthony J. Blasi
Brian Martin
Brian Keith-Smith
John Bolt
Dan Cohn-Sherbok
Michael Manley-Casimir

Sample Essay in Response

Alternate Edition

Benedict XVI and the Legitimation of Mobbing
Following the election of Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, the Edwin Mellen Press published a special trade edition of The Envy of Excellence with a different title: The Pope versus the Professor. The then Cardinal Ratzinger's 1986 visit to St. Michael's College, University of Toronto, had precipitated the campaign to rid the Catholic Theology Faculty of its big-name Protestant member, Herbert Richardson. The Pope versus the Professor is the same book as The Envy of Excellence, except for the addition of an introduction by Herbert Richardson, "Formulating the Question," and the omission of the ten essays in response.



Administrative Mobbing
of High-Achieving Professors

Kenneth Westhues

Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press, xvii + 355 + 130 pp., 14 chapters, 28 compare/contrast sections, 4 appendices, references, plus ten critical commentaries, hardcover, 2004, 2006.
ISBN 0-7734-5979-0

Available from the publisher, from Amazon, through your bookstore, or from your university library.

Featured Review

Often book reviewers commend the book under review as valuable or sometimes essential reading. This book is that and more besides. This book and the issues it raises should be on the desk and bedside table of every academic administrator in the post-secondary sector in Canada; it should also be in the course syllabus for every program in higher education / post-secondary administration in Canada. Westhues’s analysis raises issues of institutional life that strike at the heart of what it means to be a post-secondary administrator in a civil and civilized society.

Michael Manley-Casimir, Acting Provost and former Dean, Faculty of Education, Brock University, in his book review in The Canadian Journal of Education 27. Read the full review online (p. 521 of PDF).

Sutton Place Hotel, Toronto, January 29, 2004 — At the reception celebrating release of the initial Canadian edition of The Envy of Excellence, three famous targets of academic mobbing, all discussed in the book, met one another for the first time and posed for a photograph. At left is Kin-Yip Chun, Associate Professor of Physics at the University of Toronto; Chun won redress in 2005, for his involuntary exit from Toronto a dozen years before. In the centre is Herbert Richardson, the main subject of the book, a Calvinist theologian who was dismissed from the faculty of St. Michael's College, University of Toronto, in 1994; Richardson had founded The Edwin Mellen Press in 1974. At right is mathematician Jack Edmonds, a founder of the field of combinatorial optimization, winner of the von Neumann Theory Prize, the author's colleague at the University of Waterloo; Edmonds's ouster in 1991 (he was reinstated with no duties in 1993) set in motion the program of research that has culminated in this book.

Reviews and Comments

At its heart, the book is a searing critique of the rituals of managerial power. In the end, Westhues advocates education, not legislation or quasi-judicial bodies, to fight workplace mobbing, for the latter will only result in the "establishment of additional institutional mechanisms for the wielding of managerial power" (p. 305). Those who march to the beat of their own drummers (as Richardson did, by Westhues' own account) are a lesser threat to the integrity of the university and other bureaucratically managed organizations—not to mention the integrity of human relationships—than the pretextual use of this managerial power.

Bradley C. S. Watson, Philip M. McKenna Chair in American and Western Political Thought, Saint Vincent College, in his book review, "Jungle Books," in Academic Questions 20 (September 2007), pp. 256-260.

Within the nuanced cadence of the great common law traditions practiced in the United States and the British Commonwealth, perhaps no offense is more destructive yet so rarely punished as the malicious activity known colloquially as “mobbing.” Kenneth Westhues’s book goes a long way toward correcting this judicial and statutory oversight.

Kurt von S. Kynell, Professor Emeritus of Criminal Justice, Northern Michigan University

I highly recommend this book and won’t spoil it for you by detailing what I think. It takes a bit of getting into but I found that I couldn’t put it down thereafter. The book is worth reading for the quoted memoranda alone.

Vernon L. Quinsey, Professor and Head, Department of Psychology,
Queen’s University. Read his full comments online.

Kenneth Westhues’ newly released book, in the finest of sociological traditions, gives the reader a “thick description” of the mobbing of Professor Herbert Richardson, a professor with a distinguished career at the university. Readers of Clifford Geertz will recognize “thick description” as description of actions and events with the detail and in the contexts that give them living meaning. Thick description is description informed by the observer’s ability both to tell the story and to bring analytical insight to bear upon it. Thick description makes interesting reading. Besides being an insightful analytical work, this book is extremely readable, an engaging story, with a protagonist and other actors, whose viewpoints, motives, meanings and distortions Westhues brings to life – often regarding them from a multiplicity of angles.

Nancy C. Much Ross, Sometime Librarian, Regenstein Library, University of Chicago. Read more on her "tagmeme" weblogs.

Whatever quibbles I may have about Westhues’s description of the wider context, Richardson appears from the evidence presented here to have been railroaded, and Westhues’s proposals for minimizing the possibility of such occurrences in the future seem to me practical enough to appeal even to the secular technocrats among us.

Paul Malone, Associate Professor of German, University of Waterloo, in his book review in FAUW Forum, 2004. Read the full review online (pp. 12ff of PDF).

Members of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship will enjoy this book. Worthy of a screenplay, it will serve as an excellent source book for many years to come.

J. Philippe Rushton, Professor of Psychology, University of Western Ontario, in his book review in SAFS Newsletter, 2004. Read the full review online.

Westhues’s book is a massive satyagraha. The Gandhian term signifies an act which takes firm hold of a particular truth and exhibits that truth through public action intended to serve the public good. As Gandhi sought by his actions to penetrate the mystifications, deceits and oppression of the empire of his day, so Westhues in this comprehensive account penetrates the veil cast over events by the assertion and promotion of partial truths. Westhues goes far to show that the authorities who brought Richardson to trial and convicted him—for all that they were conscientious within the terms of reference set for them—took insufficient care.

A. Frank Thompson, Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies, University of Waterloo.

This book sheds valuable light on the complicated political and academic situation surrounding the rise and fall of one of the outstanding “Toronto thinkers,” Herbert Richardson. It allows the moving personal story of a brilliant but embattled scholar to emerge from behind the scenes of the public proceedings.

James Gollnick, Dean, St. Paul’s College, University of Waterloo.

Mobbing cases, especially in academe, are so complex that pulling Richardson’s case together in a coherent, comprehensible way must have been quite a challenge. But Westhues did it! The writing is eloquent, the insights brilliant, and the stories fascinating. Westhues has an awesome talent for analyzing situations and teasing out similarities and differences, allowing the reader a clear view of what is really going on in academic politics. Might this not make an interesting movie? Might it not be a useful text for students not just of sociology but of journalism, business, and law?

Joan E. Friedenberg, Professor of Linguistics, Southern Illinois University.

The main thread of the narrative delves into Richardson’s dismissal in depth. There is a danger here of lapsing into a simple description of this unique instance. Westhues, however, presents many parallel cases and events. He is able to bring this theme to a more general level applicable to the wider world. In other words, this book is theoretical as well as descriptive. Another of its qualities that struck me is the sharpness of the conceptualization. I was most impressed by how clearly Westhues distinguishes between contract and covenant, and I plan to make use of this conceptualization myself in the future.

Mitsuru Shimpo, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, St. Jerome’s University and Japan Women’s University.

Westhues makes a real contribution to the field and to humanity. His detailed analysis of “mobbing” is well researched. Readers can identify with it, a painful phenomenon that many outstanding people have suffered. Documenting this phenomenon with real, living examples brings proof to the research—and enlightenment. His authentic description of those who have been on the receiving end, combined with his recognition of their negative contributions to this phenomenon, affirms his objectivity.

Ursula A. Falk, Psychotherapist, Co-author of Ageism, the Aged and Aging in America, Buffalo, New York.

This book is a must-read for anyone concerned about academic freedom, freedom of speech, promotion, or tenure. Its description of the illicit removal of Professor Herbert Richardson raises eyebrows about the current state of academe throughout the world.

Barry W. Birnbaum, Associate Professor of Education, Northeastern Illinois University.

Dr. Westhues’s work is a positive contribution on two levels. First and most important, it fulfils the raison d’etre of academia, albeit one that becomes clouded in the sometimes internecine struggles that lie at the root of mobbing in universities. His powerful conceptualization, his theory building, and particularly the use of theory for human betterment are in the best traditions of scholarship. The second level is that of the individual. His work brings a voice of reason, sanity, and hope to those of us who are the targets.

Kathleen Kufeldt, Adjunct Professor of Sociology, University of New Brunswick, Sometime Chair in Child Protection, Memorial University.

Although the case of Professor Richardson concerns a university discipline distant from my own, I can confirm that also in Italian universities, administrative mobbing is now developing handily, especially in fields of the Health System. Many techniques of elimination are the same. We must congratulate Professor Westhues for his contribution to the knowledge of this "ganging-up" phenomenon. With more scientific knowledge come more opportunities to defend ourselves. Westhues’s work will remain a milestone in research on administrative-academic mobbing, worldwide.

Enrico Cavina, Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, Sometime Professor of Surgery, University of Pisa, Italy.

While carefully documenting the details of a lengthy and complex academic mob scene, Westhues writes with compassion for humanity in all its fallibility. He enlarges the reader’s understanding of the age-old phenomenon of scapegoating, which he believes is a fundamental aspect of human social behavior.

Wayne Langman, Instructor, Adult Basic Education, North Island College, British Columbia.

Westhues’s latest book is even better than his earlier one. He chose, in Professor Herbert Richardson, what must be without doubt the worst case of mobbing in Canadian university history. The only mobbing privilege Richardson did not experience (but I did) was to spend a night in jail. ... This new book, with excellent literary style, brims with apt metaphors (my favorite is the one about the racoon) and many touches of humor.

Hector Hammerly, Sometime Professor of Linguistics, Simon Fraser University.

Ken Westhues has written a tremendously thoughtful and provocative book about workplace mobbing and the stories of university professors targeted for extinction by their own institutions. Forgive my resort to an academic cliché, but this is an important work.

David Yamada, Professor of Law, Suffolk University.

I believe Westhues’s book represents an important contribution to social justice. It brings attention to the dirty politics that is commonplace in academic institutions.

Roland K. Pomeroy, Professor of Chemistry, Simon Fraser University.

The academic world owes a huge debt to Kenneth Westhues for his book on the trial, degradation, and dismissal of a professor. In it, he has the courage to call the phenomenon by its proper name — administrative mobbing — and he depicts it with great realism in all its grotesque, animal savagery.

Stan C. Weeber, Assistant Professor of Sociology, McNeese State University (Louisiana).

Professor Westhues is to be deeply congratulated on the terrifying vision of institutional evil which he has presented to us. Such things are permitted to exist, largely because people cannot believe how bad they are; the great weapon to be used against them is publicity. I myself would find such allegations incredible, but for a case intimately known to myself....

Hugo Meynell, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Sometime Professor of Religious Studies, University of Calgary.

Dr. Westhues eloquently chronicles the methodical destruction of an academic titan by a gang of jealous administrators on his campus. The main story is accompanied by case studies of similar mobbings elsewhere, and by Westhues’s careful analysis of the socio-historical context surrounding the unfair tragedy visited upon one brilliant, creative, and unorthodox scholar and teacher. This is among the best written and most intriguing academic books I have ever read—a shining example of pragmatic scholarship.

William Hart, Poet and Novelist, Author of Never Fade Away, Los Angeles.

Kenneth Westhues’s detailed portrayal and analysis of workplace pressures, politics, intrigues, as well as use and misuse of administrative power, is a major contribution to understanding organizational climate. His illustrations of the intense degradation and humiliation of people in the workplace are at once painful to read and yet so absorbing it is impossible to put the book down until it has been read in its entirety.

James J. Van Patten, Professor Emeritus of Education, University of Arkansas, and Adjunct Professor Florida Atlantic University.



1 Judgment and Doubt

2 Social Elimination

3 Workplace Mobbing

4 Biographical Context

5 Cultural Context

6 Defensor Vinculi

7 In the Season of Cults

8 Bad Press, Good Press

9 Breaking the Covenant

10 Inching the Target Out

11 Two Charges Struck

12 Two Charges Sustained

13 Further Quarrels

14 Human Betterment

Appendix 1: Contrasting Pension Forms
Appendix 2: Significant Dates
Appendix 3: Newspaper Coverage
Appendix 4: Robert West’s Letter of Regret, 2003
References 326
Index 343

Compare / Contrast

With Chapter One, Judgment and Doubt
Secrecy = Finality
Academic Freedom

With Chapter Two, Social Elimination
Suicide at McGill
Pedophilia and Pot

With Chapter Three, Workplace Mobbing
Math Lesson
Trinity Conspiracy?

With Chapter Four, Biographical Context
Pariahs at VSU
A Bishop’s Exit

With Chapter Five, Cultural Context
Catholic Colleges
Truth in Eulogy

With Chapter Six, Defensor Vinculi
Nonperson Neusner
Rushton’s Escape

With Chapter Seven, In the Season of Cults
Eliminations, 1994
Moon in Jail

With Chapter Eight, Bad Press, Good Press
Pandora Press
Cops and Mobbers

With Chapter Nine, Breaking the Covenant
Who Gets Mobbed?
Going Postal

With Chapter Ten, Inching the Target Out
Burnaby Utopia
Loyalty Oaths

With Chapter Eleven, Two Charges Struck
Lana, Regina
Murder Panic

With Chapter Twelve, Two Charges Sustained
Auditing for Fraud
Foxe’s Martyrs

With Chapter Thirteen, Further Quarrels
Defeating Dr. Zed
September 11, 2001

With Chapter Fourteen, Human Betterment
A Sort of Beacon
Rindos’s Academy


Philip Mathias, “Professors, Basilians, Journalists,
and the Sin of Detraction”

Philip Mathias is a veteran journalist and author in Toronto, Ontario. He has worked for the CBC, Financial Post, and National Post. Among his credits is the Canadian National Newspaper Award for Enterprise Reporting, for his exposé of the Airbus/Mulroney scandal in 1995.

Robert B. Young, “Questioning Integrity”

Robert B. Young (Ph.D. Illinois) is Professor and Director of the Center for Higher Education at Ohio University in Athens. His best-known book is No Neutral Ground: Standing by the Values We Prize in Higher Education (Jossey-Bass, 1997).

Yeager Hudson, “Academic Assassination”

Yeager Hudson (Ph.D. Boston) is the Charles A. Dana Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. Among his many books are Emerson and Tagore: Poet as Philosopher (Cross Cultural, 1988) and The Philosophy of Religion (Mayfield, 1991).

Charlotte Spivack, “Narrative Plus Philosophy, Single Case
but General Concerns”

Charlotte Spivack (Ph.D. Missouri) is Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. An award-winning teacher, she is the author of Ursula K. LeGuin (Twayne, 1984), Merlin’s Daughters (Greenwood, 1987), and numerous critical works on English classics.

Anthony J. Blasi, “From Ambivalence to Mobbing”

Anthony J. Blasi (Ph.D. Notre Dame, Th.D. Toronto) is Professor of Sociology at Tennessee State University in Nashville, past president of the Association for the Sociology of Religion and author of, inter alia, Organized Religion and Seniors’ Mental Health (UPA, 1999).
Brian Martin (Ph.D. Sydney), a physicist by training, is known for his books, articles, and website on suppression of dissent. He is Associate Professor in the School of Social Sciences, Media and Communication at the University of Wollongong, Australia.

Brian Keith-Smith, “From Covenant to Contract: Bullying
of Non-Professorial Members of Research-Driven
University Departments”

Brian Keith-Smith (D.Litt. Mellen) is Reader in German Emeritus at the University of Bristol, UK. He held a visiting appointment at the University of Adelaide in 2001. He is editor of the thirteen-volume Encyclopedia of German Women Writers, 1900-1933 (Mellen, 1997).

John Bolt, “When Spheres of Justice Collide: a Neo-Calvinist
Institutional Analysis of the Herbert Richardson Dismissal”

John Bolt (Ph.D. St. Michael’s) is Professor of Systematic Theology at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Among his numerous books is A Free Church, a Holy Nation: Abraham Kuyper’s American Public Theology (Eerdmann’s, 2001).

Dan Cohn-Sherbok, “Lessons from the British System
for Preventing Cases Like Richardson’s”

Dan Cohn-Sherbok (Ph.D. Cantab.), an American rabbi, is Professor of Judaism at the University of Wales at Lampeter, and Director of the Centre for the Study of the World's Religions. Among his forty books is the text, Judaism: History, Belief and Practice (Routledge, 2003).

Michael Manley-Casimir, “Striking at the Heart of Post-
Secondary Administration in a Civil and Civilized Society”

Michael Manley-Casimir (Ph.D. Chicago) is Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Education at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario. His books and articles, notably Teachers in Trouble (co-authored, Toronto, 1998), mainly concern the intersection of law and educational policy.