THE POPE VERSUS THE PROFESSOR
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.
THE ENVY OF EXCELLENCE
of High-Achieving Professors
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.
Available from the
publisher, from Amazon,
through your bookstore, or from your university library.
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).
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;
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.
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
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
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,
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.
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
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
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
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,
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
Enrico Cavina, Fellow of the American College
of Surgeons, Sometime Professor of Surgery, University of Pisa,
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.
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
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,
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
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
William Hart, Poet and Novelist, Author of
Fade Away, Los Angeles.
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
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
Compare / Contrast
With Chapter One, Judgment and Doubt
Secrecy = Finality
Chapter Two, Social Elimination
Suicide at McGill
Pedophilia and Pot
Chapter Three, Workplace Mobbing
Chapter Four, Biographical Context
Pariahs at VSU
A Bishop’s Exit
Chapter Five, Cultural Context
Truth in Eulogy
Chapter Six, Defensor Vinculi
Chapter Seven, In the Season of Cults
Moon in Jail
With Chapter Eight, Bad Press, Good Press
Cops and Mobbers
Chapter Nine, Breaking the Covenant
Who Gets Mobbed?
Chapter Ten, Inching the Target Out
Chapter Eleven, Two Charges Struck
Chapter Twelve, Two Charges Sustained
Auditing for Fraud
Chapter Thirteen, Further Quarrels
Defeating Dr. Zed
September 11, 2001
Chapter Fourteen, Human Betterment
A Sort of Beacon
ESSAYS IN RESPONSE
Mathias, “Professors, Basilians, Journalists,
and the Sin of Detraction”
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.
B. Young, “Questioning Integrity”
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).
Hudson, “Academic Assassination”
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).
Spivack, “Narrative Plus Philosophy, Single Case
but General Concerns”
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
J. Blasi, “From Ambivalence to Mobbing”
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
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.
Keith-Smith, “From Covenant to Contract: Bullying
of Non-Professorial Members of Research-Driven
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).
Bolt, “When Spheres of Justice Collide: a Neo-Calvinist
Institutional Analysis of the Herbert Richardson Dismissal”
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).
Cohn-Sherbok, “Lessons from the British System
for Preventing Cases Like Richardson’s”
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
Manley-Casimir, “Striking at the Heart of Post-
Secondary Administration in a Civil and Civilized Society”
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.