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Mainpage: Workplace Mobbing in Academe

Homepage: Kenneth Westhues


Below, in alphabetical order, are 32 academics whose troubles, as reported in the press or on the web, appear to fit the definition of workplace mobbing. Reviewing these cases is useful for understanding the variety of origins of the phenomenon and the different ways cases play out. Scroll down or click on the name for relevant links and brief description, and google the names for additional, more recent information about them. K. Westhues, August 2009. Updated, 2010.



Academic mobbings are reported from time to time by:

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education

Committee A of the American Association of University Professors

Canadian Association of University Teachers

Inside Higher Ed, the online magazine

Chronicle of Higher Education

National Association of Scholars

Scientific Misconduct Blog

UTMB Galveston Chapter


As a researcher of mobbing in academic institutions, I follow up on cases I have analyzed and keep an eye out for apparent new ones, gathering thereby more data for suggesting and testing hypotheses about this momentous social process. Studying the news reports below and following the links is a good way to gain a grasp of academic mobbing as a field of scholarly inquiry and practical concern. Anyone looking for additional cases can search through the sources linked at left.

Given how politicized higher education in North America has become, I should emphasize that mobbings may occur from the left (commonly for alleged transgressions of political correctness), from the right (for allegedly immoral or unpatriotic acts), or from local coalitions that have little to do with broad political currents. I should also emphasize that few mobbing targets (indeed, few humans) are wholly innocent of mistakes and faults. Many victims of lynching in the old South were guilty of serious crimes, but that does not alter the fact that they were lynched.

Web surfers who reach this page without prior study of the field of workplace mobbing may want first to visit the parent page of this website.

Suggestions and links for additional reports on academic mobbings for summarizing here are welcome, and best sent to me by email.

University of
South Florida

Jury refuses to convict Sami Al-Arian (University of South Florida), but he is eliminated anyway

For accounts of Al-Arian's troubles with the United States government and with the University of South Florida in 2002-2003, see the websites on Academic Free Speech and the family ordeal. See John Sugg's analysis of the conclusion of the case against Al-Arian in 2006: the prosecution's humiliating failure to persuade a jury of the serious charges brought against the professor, Al-Arian's plea of guilty to minor misdeeds, and a judge's sentence of still more jail time. At last report, Al-Arian he should be released from prison about the end of 2007, and then deported from the United States. Al-Arian's case lends credence to the view that if professionals in the academic and court systems want badly enough to get rid of a mobbing target, they will not be deterred by juries that disagree.

Southern Illinois

Jonathan Bean on guard, surviving at Southern Illinois (Carbondale)

Historian Jon Bean's prolific scholarship is well received and most students have great respect for him, enough to have won him a teaching award, but leftist professors in his department ganged up to discredit this more conservative scholar in 2005. The effort backfired, and Bean has continued in his position. A good example of lateral, horizontal, or collegial mobbing. For more about the campaign to run Bean out of his job, see John Gravois's 2006 article in the Chronicle of Higher Education and my supplement to that article, The Story behind the Story.

Southern Illinois University, Carbondale

Jerry Becker and Elisabeth Reichert in Board Presentation at SIUC

In an impressive initiative for educating a university's highest authority on the reality of mobbing in academe, four senior professors at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, made a collective presentation to the Board of Trustees (pp. 22-33 of PDF) at its March 2005 meeting. The group was led by Mark Schneider (Sociology). Joining him were Joan Friedenberg (Linguistics), Elisabeth Reichert (Social Work), and Jerry Becker (Education).

In his 2006 article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, John Gravois described at some length the troubles of math educator Jerry Becker, and referred also to Elisabeth Reichert's case. I refer to them as well in my Story behind the Story.

University of

Stephen Berman ousted from University of Saskatchewan

The Canadian press reported in February of 2006 that an arbitration tribunal had upheld the dismissal of Stephen Berman, a 32-year faculty veteran at the University of Saskatchewan. Berman is arguably the most distinguished mathematician in the province. The grounds for dismissing him were that he had posted fake ratings to the popular website, ratemyprofessors. Close reading of the tribunal documents persuades me that this dismissal was a remarkably clear case of academic scapegoating. My analysis of the Berman dismissal on the basis of the official documents has been available online since December 2006; published with it are critical responses by professors in Berman's former department. Berman is one of a number of mobbed mathematicians who have come to my attention.

Sheffield University

Aubrey Blumsohn is forced out, starts blogging

Should a scientist get to inspect the raw data underlying a research report published under that scientist's name? Does a scientist control the writing of which he or she is shown as author? Obviously yes, in the view of Aubrey Blumsohn, pathologist, specialist in osteoporosis, and former Senior Lecturer at the UK's Sheffield University. Procter & Gamble, a major source of research funds at Sheffield, and the sponsor of Blumsohn's tests of the effectiveness of its osteoporosis drug, Actonel, took a more collaborative view. P&G saw itself as a "true partner in scientific endeavors," and would therefore analyze the data for Blumsohn and assign one of its own employees to ghostwrite his research reports.

In 2004, Blumsohn complained about P&G to the university administration, arguing that "no self-respecting scientist could ever be expected to publish findings based on data to which they do not have free and full access." Blumsohn's complaint and his readiness to give the matter public airing triggered an episode of administrative mobbing, with him as the target. He was suspended from his university position on grounds that his "conduct over these past months amounts to and constitutes conduct that is quite incompatible with the duties of office." Click here for the account in The Observer at the end of 2005, and here for the account in Times Higher; see also Jennifer Washburn's article in Slate.

Blumsohn resigned from Sheffield University in 2006. In July of that year, he began his Scientific Misconduct Blog, which gives detailed documentation on the P&G dispute, wide-ranging evidence of the corruption of science by corporate interests, and rich insight into the subtle techniques by which universities and scientists are bought off.

Virginia Polytechnic and State University

Seung-Hui Cho goes postal, killing 32 and himself

Very few mobbing targets go postal, but when one does, condemnation of the perpetrator's flawed identity tends to displace understanding of the tragedy in terms of background and context. Click here for a contextual analysis of the massacre at Virginia Tech in the spring of 2007, perpetrated by a graduating student in the English Department, Seung-Hui Cho.

University of Colorado Boulder

Firestorm over Churchill

Professorial mobbings may be instigated by administrators, colleagues, students, people off-campus, or any combination thereof. The campaign against Ward Churchill, Professor and Chair of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado, arose initially among right-wing journalists and political groups far from his home university. A firestorm of outrage swept across US media in January of 2005, over an essay Churchill had written after the 9/11 attacks, in which he called the businesspeople who died in the World Trade Centre "little Eichmanns." To all patriots, Churchill quickly became a leftist witch to be eliminated from his job and from all respectable company. As the witch hunt progressed in following months, Churchill was accused of plagiarism, research fraud, and falsification of his claimed Indian identity. The campaign to dismiss him from the faculty of the University of Colorado followed a long and tortuous route, succeeding only in 2007. Churchill then appealed to the courts, winning a jury verdict but to no avail.

In the inaugural issue of AAUP's new Journal of Academic Freedom (2010), Ellen Schrecker published a thorough, trenchant analysis of the Churchill case, commenting also on those of Sami Al-Arian and Norman Finkelstein, and finding all of them reminiscent of the McCarthy era in American academe.

One voice of reason in the fanatic anti-Churchill campaign belonged to Thomas Brown, a sociology professor at Lamar University. Brown circulated a sober, factual paper documenting egregious mistakes in Churchill's historical scholarship. To that extent, in a well-timed academic intervention, he joined Churchill's mobbers. Brown also, however, published an essay of remarkable breadth and balance, "Is Ward Churchill the New Michael Bellesiles?" wherein he cast doubt on Churchill's competence while at the same time agreeing "that the assault on him is politically motivated, and is part of a broader assault on the institution of tenure and academic freedom." Brown appears to be a more careful scholar than Churchill, more aware of life's complexity, more tolerant of ambiguity, more able to keep political ideology from intruding on the search for truth.

In an opinion piece on academic freedom in March of 2005, I pointed out similarities between the cases of Ward Churchill, University of Waterloo Engineering Professor Mohamed Elmasry, and Harvard President Lawrence Summers.

For the May 2006 verdict of a faculty panel on the administration's effort to dismiss Churchill, see the summary in insidehighered or better yet, read the full report. Gary Witherspoon published a pointed critique of Churchill's formal dismissal from the university in 2007.

Southern Illinois University, Carbondale

Suicide of David Clarke

My first book on academic mobbing, Eliminating Professors, was published in late 1998. Four years later, on November 5, 2002, I received an email from David S. Clarke, Editor of Knowledge, Technology, and Policy: "I have just finished your book. Parts of it started dribbles of sweat down my back as it described exactly the hell I went through. Your carefully built composite of PITA fits me to a 'T' unfortunately." The social elimination inflicted on Clarke had been unusually thorough: he had been dismissed from his professorship at Southern Illinois University, convicted (wrongly, he insisted) of assaulting his wife, and divorced by her (she was an SIU senior administrator), all as a package. Clarke and I were in touch occasionally over the next three years, during which he relocated from Carbondale to Guidel, a Breton village in western France. Our association culminated in my inclusion of his essay, "Leaving Luzerville," in my edited book, Winning, Losing, Moving On. On November 6, 2005, shortly after returning to me the corrected page proofs for his chapter, three years after his first email to me, David Clarke took his own life. His friends in Carbondale gathered for a memorial service on December 16. During my lecture on academic mobbing there in March of 2006, I invited those in attendance to join me in a moment of silence in Clarke's memory.

Virginia State University

At last, Jean Cobbs vindicated

The Envy of Excellence devoted a page to the "pariahs of VSU," the professors (mostly white or African) at this historically black institution who ran afoul of the administration of Eddie N. Moore, president since 1993. By 2000, the courts had ordered the university to pay well over $2 million in damages to wrongly ousted professors. Then in Workplace Mobbing in Academe, Carey E. Stronach, Professor of Physics at VSU since 1965, wrote a detailed history of the terror at his institution entitled, "The Campus CEO, State Politics, and the Mobbing of Exceptionally Competent Professors." That chapter concluded with an account of the unbelievable harassment inflicted on Sociology Professor Jean R. Cobbs since 1994, when she was forced out as chair of her department. Cobbs's offense appeared to be that she was on the one hand proudly African-American, with deep roots in the South, but on the other hand proudly Christian and conservative, with connections to the Republican Party.

After publication of Stronach's chapter, things at VSU went from bad to worse, the administration going after dissident faculty at will. It dismissed two senior, respected, tenured, veteran professors after precooked post-tenure reviews. First, in May of 2004, was Sikiru Olusoga, Professor of Marketing, who had been at VSU since 1992. Then in January of 2005, Cobbs herself was dismissed. She had taught at VSU since 1971.

VSU's persecution of capable faculty was so egregious it earned anathemas from professors' organizations on both the right and left sides of the political spectrum. In April of 2005, Stephen Balch, on behalf of the National Association of Scholars, strongly condemned Cobbs's dismissal, saying, "This extraordinary instance of administrative fiat ought to arouse the deep concern of anyone who cares for the future of intellectual freedom and academic due process." Then in June of 2005, the American Association of University Professors placed VSU under official censure.

Jean Cobbs sued VSU for wrongful dismissal, and settled for $600,000 in January, 2007.

Missouri State University

Dramatist George Cron ousted, goes to court

Any professor who declines a colleague's overtures toward becoming a special friend risks becoming that colleague's special enemy. The colleague may thereafter spend months or years carefully spreading doubt about the ingrate's competence or probity, leading to formation of a mob bent on getting rid of him or her.

To judge by documentation on the Turner Report, this is what happened to actor and director George Cron, who taught at Missouri State University, Springfield, from 1999 to 2004. Although the Tenure Committee of the Department of Theatre and Dance voted 6-2 in favour of giving Cron tenure, the department chair was opposed. Internal appeals went nowhere. At last, in July of 2005, an external arbitrator ruled in Cron's favour. Amazingly, the school's Board of Governors refused to accept the arbitrator's judgment, and Cron was out of a job.

Cron sued for wrongful dismissal and defamation, only to have the suit thrown out by a magistrate in September of 2007. The magistrate ruled that under the United States constitution, an individual cannot sue the state, and the university is part of the state. A curious ruling on the face of it, since even on this website are many cases of professors bringing, and sometimes winning, lawsuits against state universities.

Authoritarian univesity administrations spend lots of money fending off court challenges to their decisions. Their universities become little worlds of their own, where dissenters are routinely banished. Missouri State University seems to be that sort of place. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has rated the institution red, on account of numerous assaults on freedom of thought and speech there in recent years, in particular the punishment of social work student Emily Booker for her political views.

St. Francis Xavier University

Shiraz Dossa mobbed for attending conference, keeps job

When word got out that political scientist Shiraz Dossa was attending a conference on the Holocaust in Iran in December of 2006, about a quarter of his colleagues at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, went into a panic and signed a petition against him. The school's administration seemed poised to punish him. Globe & Mail columnist John Ibbitson called for him to be fired. CAUT, on the other hand, came to his defense. Thankfully, St F X President Sean Riley kept his cool, and the mobbing ended as quickly as it began. Debate continued, as it should.

In June of 2007, The Literary Review of Canada published Dossa's own analysis of the conflict. Editor Bronwyn Drainie was perceptive in her comments to Maclean's: "“But I would say he was definitely ganged up on, and that to me goes beyond what I would call healthy intellectual debate. Debates occur between individuals, maybe between groups, but when you have sort of 100 versus one, it’s a gang-up, and it went on not only at his university, but at the Globe and Mail." Another perceptive take on the mobbing was from St F X English professor Phil Milner, in an opinion piece in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, unfortunately no longer available on the web.

Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville

Ouster and Lawsuit of Dussold

To judge by Thomas Bartlett's long, detailed, absorbing account in The Chronicle of Higher Education (issue of 10 February 2006), the formal dismissal in 2004 of Christopher Dussold, an assistant professor of finance, from Southern Illinois University (Edwardsville campus), was but the culmination of a bizarre, multifaceted case of workplace mobbing. An unfounded rumor in the fall of 2003 that Dussold was having sex with a student led to an investigation by the provost. The accused was unaware of the investigation until he learned that he was cleared. His dean, however, Gary Giamartino, was apparently not satisfied that Dussold was innocent. Over spring break of 2004, Dussold decided to leave Southern Illinois at the end of his current contract, which had one year left to run, and he so informed his dean and department chair. Later the same day, the dean summarily fired him for plagiarizing from the internet part of a statement of his teaching philosophy. The due-process investigation mandated by university policy did not occur.

Dussold subsequently sued his dean and half a dozen colleagues for defamation. As of late 2007, the case has not yet come to trial.

What is still more noteworthy, a group of Dussold's supporters set about unearthing evidence of plagiarism in the writings of SIU administrators. Dean Giamartino was among the first. He defended himself in The Alestle, the campus's student newspaper, only to be ridiculed in an editorial for saying he didn't know who wrote the official dean's message to which his name and photo were attached.

Styling themselves the "Alumni and Faculty Against Corruption at SIU," the group trying to rescue Dussold exposed one after another SIU administrator for plagiarism between the spring of 2006 and the fall of 2007. The campaign culminated in the news that Glenn Poshard, president of the SIU system, had plagiarised parts of his doctoral thesis. The Chicago Tribune and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, as well as the Chronicle of Higher Education and insidehighered, gave the story extensive coverage. Editorial boards, columnists, and faculty groups called for Poshard's resignation, while the SIU Board of Trusteesto gave him continued support. More than one commentator said that SIU had become a laughing-stock.

The amazing thing at SIU is that instead of taking time to understand and correct the unfair treatment of Dussold, administrators at SIU have dug in their heals and demonized him, even at the cost of their institution's basic credibility. It is a tragic case study in the perverse psychological mechanism, inability to admit error, analyzed in the insightful 2007 book by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson, Mistakes Were Made (but not by me).

For an analysis of plagiarism that is rare for its good sense and balance, see Brian Martin, "Plagiarism: a Misplaced Emphasis."

University of Waterloo

Mobbing of Elmasry aborted

As he had planned for years, Mohammed Elmasry retired from the engineering faculty of the University of Waterloo at the end of 2005. He could then devote more time to his work as President of the Canadian Islamic Congress. Elmasry's deservedly honorable retirement nicely illustrates that cool, reasoned administrative action can sometimes bring an incipient mobbing to a halt, without long-term harm to anyone.

That is how things turned out at the University of Waterloo in the fall of 2004. On October 19, engineering Professor Mohamed Elmasry took part in a TV talk show aimed at defining terrorism. A prominent researcher and Fellow of the Royal Society, Elmasry appeared on the show wearing his other hat as head of the Muslim organization, well known for his devotion to his religion, his adopted country, and to peace. The National Post and other Canadian media seized upon sentiments Elmasry expressed on the program and portrayed him as a dangerous defender of terrorism. Elmasry apologized for ill-chosen words and clarified his views. Debate raged pro and con, as is normal and healthy in the public discourse of a free society.

On October 26, however, Waterloo President David Johnston announced to the Board of Governors that he had appointed Science Dean George Dixon to investigate the comments Elmasry had made on TV, with a view to possible discipline. Contentious words were thereby transformed into a "critical incident" that could have led to Elmasry's official humiliation by his home university, even his dismissal from the faculty. Had Dixon joined the incipient mob and gone after Elmasry's job, the harm done to a responsible leader of Canada's Muslim community, to freedom of expression, and to the cause of interreligious and interethnic tolerance would have been severe and enduring. Instead, less than a month later, Dixon had the good sense to accept Elmasry's apology and close the case. After a few months of being shunned by the media, Elmasry returned to his earlier, respected role as political commentator, regularly quoted on Islamic affairs.

Len Guelke, a leader of the Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo, subsequently published a clearheaded analysis of the Elmasry case (PDF, pp. 4f) in the association's newsletter. I offered my take on the conflict in an article in The Record (March 3, 2005).

DePaul University

Norman Finkelstein gets the boot

As a Jew, a son of Holocaust survivors, but nonetheless a critic of the Holocaust Industry and Israeli politics, Norman Finkelstein is among the most controversial public intellectuals in America. Nothing wrong with that. Free, vigorous, impassioned debate does not imply mobbing. On the contrary, it is a corrective and preventive. Having heard Finkelstein lecture, I know from personal experience what is obvious in his writing, that he is brave, no shrinking violet, that he gives as good as he gets.

Altogether apart from constructive debate is an impassioned campaign to do an accomplished scholar out of his job. Alan Dershowitz, one of Finkelstein's intellectual adversaries, was among the leaders of such a campaign in spring and summer of 2007, to prevent Finkelstein from receiving tenure in his academic home, the Department of Political Science at DePaul University.

To its everlasting shame, the DePaul administration caved. So did the governing board. By any standard, Finkelstein is an outstanding scholar, more than deserving of tenure at any American university. The great majority of his colleagues at DePaul, in particular those in his own department, recognized his worth. This was a case of mobbing by forces outside the target's university, and it achieved its goal. One small consolation was that in the final settlement, after fierce and widespread conflict, the DePaul administration acknowledged Finkelstein as "a prolific scholar and an outstanding teacher."

Kingston University

Howard Fredrics seeks redress at Kingston University (UK)

The bureaucratized university plays havoc with bright, creative minds. In July of 2006, Diana Winstanley, a 45-year-old professor in the School of Human Resource Management at Kingston University, hanged herself. As at many other universities, a significant number of faculty have been on leave in recent years for occupational stress.

American-born Howard Fredrics, a senior lecturer in music at Kingston until his formal dismissal in 2006, has published a well-documented multi-media website on the conflict that led to his ouster and his efforts since then for redress, and on similar conflicts involving other faculty at Kingston. The website is also useful for its critique of British employment law, in particular the easily abused "some other substantial reason" for an employee's dismissal. Of particular interest in Fredrics's own case is the ganging up of eleven colleagues and their filing a collective grievance against him, apparently with the administration's encouragement, following his own formal complaint of administrative ill-treatment. The mire of legal twists and turns since then is deep, involving charges of witness intimidation, anti-Semitism, and much else.


Southern Illinois University,

Redress for Friedenberg

Mobbing targets rarely get redress. An exception is Joan E. Friedenberg, now Professor Emerita of Linguistics at Southern Illinois University. Friedenberg recounted and analyzed her case in a powerful chapter of my edited volume, Workplace Mobbing in Academe (2004), "Political Psychology at Southern Illinois University: the Use of an Outside Consultant for Mobbing a Professor (pp. 259-289). With tenacity and courage, she also took legal action. After prolonged legal wrangling, the case was settled out of court in mid-January 2006. The following five articles from the campus newspaper, The Daily Egyptian, describe how the case was resolved:

A line from the editorial deserves emphasis: "the real problem is the campus culture that tolerates such conduct."

See also "," a website about "political psychology," that is, the use of psychologists to further the political agendas of client employers.

I recount elsewhere on this website how Friedenberg was the maven behind the anti-mobbing movement at her university in 2005-06, reflected in John Gravois's article in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

In 2007, President Glenn Poshard denounced Friedenberg as a "terrorist" for seeking constructive resolution of the controversy over plagiarism at SIU, and for appealing for fair treatment of Dussold.

By terms of the 2006 agreement to settle her claims against SIU, 2006-07 was Friedenberg's final academic year on the SIU faculty. She has since moved to the Faculty of Education at Florida Atlantic University. One can imagine her relief to have escaped so poisonous an academic environment.

University of Southern Mississippi

Ouster of Frank Glamser and Gary Stringer at Southern Mississippi

The dismissal in 2004 of sociology professor Frank Glamser and English professor Gary Stringer by President Shelby Thames was about as clear a case of administrative mobbing as I have come across in recent years. It is truly remarkable that their elimination held — according to press reports at the time, they should each have completed two years of paid terminal leave in 2006. Basically, Thames got his way, despite enormous opposition on and off the campus.

When a campus climate goes out of control, usually from authoritarian administration, the result is often a spate of mobbing cases. The Glamser/Stringer scandal is not the only one at Southern Mississippi; see the usmnews website, and the account there of the troubles of business professor Chauncey DePree.

Case Western Reserve University

Biswanath Halder is cybermobbed, goes postal

Retard, moron, loon — such were the labels applied to this India-born adult student at Case Western, in guestbook messages left on his website in 2000. His tormentors created a website of their own: Someone hacked into his computer that year and destroyed thousands of files Halder had spent many years working on, files he intended to be his contribution to history and his way of getting rich. Halder sought redress through university channels, but got none. He sued in public court, but his case was thrown out in April of 2003.

The next month, Halder went berserk and put the campus under siege for seven hours. He shot and killed a student he did not know, and injured two others.

In December of 2005, Halder was convicted of murder. Early in 2006, he was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.

The most detailed account I can find of this case on the web is from MSNBC, called "Terror in the Afternoon." The emphasis there, as in coverage of most school shootings, is on the killer's crimes and personal pathology, rather than on the precipitating circumstances.

To say that Halder was mobbed at Case Western in no way mitigates his guilt of horrific crimes, nor does it deny the disordered state of Halder's psyche, ample evidence of which was presented at trial. The simple, emprical fact remains: he was ganged up on, collectively humiliated, his life's work illegally, immorally destroyed, and this was a prelude to his crimes. For an analysis of a school shooting similar in some respects, see the cluster of webpages on Seung--Hui Cho.

Simon Fraser University

Hector Hammerly is dead

In a letter in the campus newspaper in 1997, Hector Hammerly, Professor of Linguistics at Simon Fraser University and a charter member of its faculty since 1965, described his efforts at administrative reform and declared, "The larger struggles I shall pursue until I become mentally incapacitated or die."

Later that spring, the administration pounced full force on Hammerly. He was publicly humiliated and forced into early retirement. His fight then became mainly to clear his name. He fought tenaciously, quixotically, year after year, in and out of court, but his health failed more and more.

On March 4, 2006, Hector Hammerly died of a massive heart attack or stroke, alone in the Ramada Inn in Coquitlam, British Columbia, where he had fled by taxi from an assisted-living lodge.

As of December 2006, I have made a cluster of files in Hammerly's memory available online.

Brandeis University

Donald Hindley survives administrative attack at Brandeis

In a blog entry in November of 2007, University of Pennsylvania English professor Erin O'Connor was the first to apply the word mobbing to the campaign launched earlier that fall against Brandeis politics professor Donald Hindley. Triggered by one or two students complaining that Hindley had used the word wetback in a lecture, the campaign was led by Provost Marty Krauss, Department Chair Steven Burg, and officials in the Human Resources Department. Following a secret investigation, Krauss found Hindley guilty of violating Brandeis's anti-discrimination policy, assigned an assistant provost to monitor Hindley's class, and ordered the 46-year faculty veteran to attend sensitivity training (see the account in insidehighered).

Hindley had the good sense to make the actions against him public. Student and faculty groups at Brandeis, as well as FIRE, the Massachusetts ACLU, and numerous outside commentators came to Hindley's defense. By late January of 2008, Krauss was declaring that she considered the matter closed — a common statement from administrators after an effort to mob a professor has backfired and they are feeling heat themselves. Click here for the follow-up story in insidehighered.

Queensland University of Technology

John Hookham and Gary MacLennan suspended for public dissent

With amazing prescience, the late Susan Sontag captured the emergent postmodern Geist in her 1964 essay in Partisan Review," Notes on Camp". Now forty years later, this Geist is an hegemonic force in many universities. Accordingly, a documentary entitled "Laughing at the Disabled" was approved as a doctoral project in a major Australian film program in 2007.

Two members of faculty, leftist but not postmodern, found little humour in the project. On April 11, after their objections on campus had been ignored, they published an article in The Australian, "Philistines of Relativism at the Gates." In consequence, they were accused of disrespecting and abusing the student. Vice-Chancellor Peter Coaldrake summarily suspended the two academics, reciting the common mantra in cases of administrative mobbing, that the "university supports the right to academic freedom on the basis that it comes with responsibility...."

Coaldrake's precipitous punishment of Hookham and MacLennan for publishing their honest views brought a vigorous backlash on the QUT campus, with rallies in support of the suspended faculty. Not surprisingly, since the protagonists are filmmakers, the conflict played out in part via youtube clips. For Hookham and MacLennan's viewpoint, click here. For a response from doctoral student Michael Noonan, click here.

When an academic mobbing proceeds to the point of formally excluding the target from the campus community, as by suspension or dismissal, the mobbing is rarely reversed. Once off the payroll, a target is rarely put back on. In November of 2007, Hookham and MacLennan accepted buyouts and resigned their jobs. Here is MacLennan's explanatory email.

Dalhousie University

Harassment of Gabrielle Horne Continues at Dalhousie

See the CAUT file for detailed information on the kafka-esque torment of Gabrielle Horne, a cardiologist and assistant professor of medicine at Dalhousie University. A mobbing that appears to have originated in professional jealousy has continued for years by a kind of bureaucratic inertia, as the administrators and lawyers of the Capital District Health Authority dug in their heals. By late 2006, CAUT Director James Turk was begging the provincial premier to intervene.

Brooklyn College

K C Johnson alive and kicking at Brooklyn College

The crusade against prolific historian K C Johnson when he came up for tenure at Brooklyn College is almost an archetype of academic mobbing in our time, revolving as it did around political correctness. The full documentation was still available online in November of 2007. By a mixture of cleverness, determination, outside support, and luck, Johnson survived, and he continues to make waves. Among numerous contributions to insidehighered, his 2006 article on the perils of academic unions is especially trenchant.

Perhaps because personal experience had sensitized Johnson to the reality of fanatic collective persecution in human social life, he was able to detect this horrifying process in the indictment of three Duke University lacrosse players on false charges of rape in March of 2006. Johnson began a blog about the case, Durham-in-Wonderland, which proved to be a reliable source of the truth of what was going on. In an entry on August 11, Johnson explicitly applied the mobbing conceptualization to the lacrosse players' plight. The attorney general for the state of North Carolina dropped all charges and declared the players innocent on April 11, 2007. Later in the year, Stuart Taylor and K C Johnson published their much praised book, Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case.

University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio

Biologist Robert J. Klebe sues for constructive dismissal

In The Goose-Step (p. 300), Upton Sinclair quotes John Jay Chapman's comparison of professors to rabbits: "The average professor in an American college will look on at an act of injustice done to a brother professor by their college president with the same unconcern as the rabbit who is not attacked watches the ferret pursue his brother up and down through the warren to a predestinate and horrible death."

In my studies of academic mobbings, Chapman's characterization often rings true. Even faculty associations often fade into the woodwork when a professor is collectively attacked, especially if the association includes some of the attackers in its membership.

But this is not always the case. Occasional professors are amazingly adroit and brave in their efforts to rescue a targeted colleague. If some faculty associations are compliant servants of collective will and administrative power, others are public defenders of professors' individual rights and bulwarks against abuse of power.

The Texas Faculty Association, led for many years by executive director Charles Zucker, belongs in the latter category. So does the blogmeister of the association's UTMB Galveston Chapter, who has publicized and analyzed there a number of recent cases of apparent mobbing.

Study, for instance, the 2007 statement of claim against the University of Texas system by Robert J. Klebe, a tenured biology professor at the medical school in San Antonio. This account of administrative actions against him (not yet proven in court, of course) reads like a primer on mobbing techniques: redefined job expectations, negative performance evaluation, drastic cut in salary, damage to plans for patents and publications, precooked post-tenure evaluation (much like sham peer review), and assignment to teach a course in gross anatomy, "a course he has never taken, and is not qualified to teach. This course involves the dissection of human cadavers; activity defendants know plaintiff is personally averse to performing."

The last item reminds me of a report from another university where administrators sought to get rid of a professor in the School of Agriculture. Knowing he was Muslim, they reassigned him to the swine farm.

Cape Breton

David Mullen suspended for words at Cape Breton University

In Eliminating Professors, I identified a type of professor called DR. PITA, an acronym for Pain In The Ass. The honest, outspoken, truthful, but conservative historian at Cape Breton University, David Mullen, appears to fit the bill. By his vehement opposition to politically correct nostrums in 2006, he brought down on himself the university's anti-harassment bureaucracy. To the chagrin of the Cape Breton administration, Mullen published on his website the full documentation, including the remarkable findings against him made by a Halifax adjudicator. Mullen was suspended without pay in the summer of 2006. As part of a negotiated settlement of the dispute, he removed the offending documentation.

University of Toronto

Nancy Olivieri still battling in court

The lesson from this medical researcher's troubles in Canada is similar to the lesson from another medical researcher's troubles in the UK: the roof is likely to fall in on your career if you fail to show deference to a corporation that provides the university with lots of money. Colleagues and administrators who show the expected deference will accuse you of misconduct, you will be shamed and puinished, and in the longer run, you will lose your job. Even after your exit, unless you repent, you are likely to be mired in legal proceedings for years to come.

For understanding this case of administrative mobbing, the single best source is the documents on CAUT's website.

On account of her fearless and sustained resistance to the influence of "Big Pharma" on her university, Olivieri has become a hero to critics of the penetration and corruption of academic research by large-scale corporate interests. She has received honourary degrees from Simon Fraser University and the University of Winnipeg. Among her adversaries at Toronto, on the other hand, mere mention of her name raises eyebrows, and she is still seen as a troublemaker; see, for instance, Miriam Shuchman's book, The Drug Trial (2005), and then read the review of it by David Healy of Cardiff University, a researcher with his own experience of career disruption, for refusing to kowtow to the interests of pharmaceutical corporations. The review is an exceedingly informative account of how things go in an academic mobbing.

The good news is that despite many years of stress and ongoing court proceedings even in 2007, hematologist Olivieri continues her research.

University of Lethbridge

Tom Robinson threatened with suspension for a website

Lethbridge is among the smaller universities in Canada, with about 8,000 students. Yet even here, education suffers from administrators' adoption of a legalistic, bureaucratic mode of governance, an approach to problem solving that undermines the trust essential to teaching and learning — and that occasionally results in the mobbing of an academic who resists.

Religious studies professor Tom Robinson has published on his website the documentation about how a very minor administrative issue in the fall of 2005, escalated into a dean's recommendation in 2007, that Robinson be suspended without pay for two months. Administrators handled the need to change instructors for a course in mid-semester in a way that was legalistic, overly bureaucratic, and unfair to the students enrolled. Robinson politely cried foul. As months passed, the administrators decided to go after Robinson.

Insistence that all issues be resolved internally and abhorrence of public exposure are intrinsic to the bureaucratic mode of governance. To see how administrators at Lethbridge responded to Robinson's public airing of the matter, study in particular the dean's letter to him of October 24, an exemplar of legalese.

University of Georgia

John Soloski fights back at University of Georgia

See the insidehighered and vdare accounts of how Professor John Soloski, Dean of Journalism at the University of Georgia, got squeezed out of his administrative position in 2005 — ostensibly on grounds of sexual harassment but more likely because he had failed to toe the administrative line. News came in June of 2006, of Soloski's lawsuit against Georgia President Michael Adams on grounds that Adams used the sexual harassment charge to settle a longstanding grudge. Here is an analysis of the case sympathetic to Soloski's claims.

This may be one of the many cases of administrative mobbing in which an aggrieved person in a protected category — a woman, visible minority, aboriginal or disabled person — becomes a tool wiith which able-bodied white male administrators pursue an agenda of their own.

January 2005
Harvard University

Successful Mobbing of Harvard President Lawrence Summers

University presidents are known for speaking platitudes. Harvard President Lawrence Summers got mobbed out of his job when he departed from convention in his "Remarks at the NBER Conference" on January 14, 2005. The hypotheses he offered for why women are underrepresented in the top echelons of science deeply offended a member of the audience, MIT Biology Professor Nancy Hopkins. An article in the next day's Boston Globe reported that Hopkins said if she hadn't walked out, she would have either blacked out or thrown up. In suggesting, even if tentatively and as part of a multifactor explanation, that the best scientists are disproprotionately male on account of sex differences in innate aptitude for science, Summers challenged an almost sacred tenet of the feminist movement. Nationwide feminist outrage over his comments merged with other complaints about his conduct of office. His profuse apologies were not enough to forestall a faculty vote of no-confidence in his leadership. The furore swept Summers out of office.

Most commentators were so focused on issues of sexual equality and brain chemistry that they overlooked what appears to the mobbing researcher as the basic reality: that the president of America's premier university was turfed by a fanatic, impassioned crowd, after he expressed his honest views politely, reasonably, on the basis of evidence, and with openness to further research. Following are four commentaries that addressed this basic reality. First on the list is a Montreal columnist's explicit application of the mobbing research to the Summers affair.

A demonized conception of a mobbing target endures for years in the public mind, long after the target has been eliminated from the position that was initially at stake. In late summer of 2007, 300 professors signed a fanatic petition that resulted in cancellation of a speech Summers was scheduled to give to the University of California Board of Regents. The petition described Summers as "one who has come to symbolize gender and racial prejudice in academia."

Medaille College, Buffalo, NY

Settlements with Warden and Watson

There are enough grains of truth in the accusations made against most mobbing targets that the outside analyst breaks into laughter only after lengthy and thorough study. In two cases at Medaille College, an immediate laugh could hardly be suppressed. On February 8, 2002, Acting President John Donohue formally dismissed tenured Professor Therese Warden for turpitude. On April 26, 2002, he dismissed tenured Professor Uhuru Watson for the same horrific offense. Neither professor had done anything wrong. Watson had not even done what was judged to have been turpitudinous, namely put minutes of a meeting in a colleague's mailbox. I analyzed the Medaille mobbings in a paper circulated electronically that fall (PDF), subsequently published in Workplace Mobbing in Academe (2004). For a more detailed account of the Medaille mobbings and an explanation and defense of the research methods used in that project, see The Remedy and Prevention of Mobbing in Higher Education (2006).

The good news is that following publication of a damning report on the dismissals by the American Association of University Professors in the spring of 2004, and under imminent threat of formal censure by that organization at its meeting of June 2004, the new President of Medaille College, Joseph Bascuas, reached mutually agreeable settlements with both professors, reinstating Watson to his faculty position and compensating Warden monetarily. Regrettably, despite giving redress to Warden and Watson for the enormous harm to them, the Medaille administration did not regain much trust from the faculty, and conflict continued into 2006. A new president, Richard T. Jurasek, took office in 2007, giving promise of a healthier campus climate.

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

James D. Watson broken for breaking a taboo

As in Galileo's time and all other times, there are certain scientific positions that must not be publicly espoused, even tentatively and with qualifications, and notwithstanding evidence in support of them, for fear of inciting moral panic and being hounded even from a job that is formally secure. Lawrence Summers's ouster from Harvard in 2006, is an apt recent example. Another example is the ouster of James D. Watson in 2007, from the research institution on Long Island, New York, that he had led since 1968.

Watson's mobbing unfolded with breathtaking suddenness, speed, and finality. In an article in the Sunday Times on October 14, 2007, Watson said of Africans that “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really." This remark sparked widespread outrage among professors and pundits. Watson was denounced in the media throughout the English-speaking world, and several of his speaking engagements were cancelled. Watson apologized a few days later, but to no avail. On October 25, Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory announced his retirement as chancellor. Steve Sailer wrote a perceptive assessment of this humiliation of one of the greatest scientists of our time, joint winner of the Nobel prize in physiology/medicine in 1962.

Memorial University of Newfoundland

Supreme Court Victory for Young

The School of Social Work at Memorial University seems to have been an unusually troubled workplace in the mid-1990s. In a chapter of Workplace Mobbing in Academe (2004), Kathleen Kufeldt, former holder of the Chair in Child Protection there, describes how she escaped with her life, though not her job, from her dealings with an administrator she calls "Dr. Teflon." In a chapter of Winning, Losing, Moving On (2005), Kufeldt's colleague Ross A. Klein tells how he has managed to survive and even win a promotion in a hostile environment. Kufeldt and Klein have drawn from painful experience lessons worth heeding by any professor under the gun.

While of no direct benefit to either of these professors, a decision of Canada's highest court on January 28, 2006, should give both of them vicarious satisfaction. The decision was in favor of a student target of administrative aggression in the same workplace. The Supreme Court of Canada upheld an award of more than $800,000 to Wanda Young, who was wrongly reported to the provincial authorities in 1994, on unfounded suspicion of child sexual abuse. Her name was placed on the Child Abuse Registry. Young did not learn she had been reported until two years later, by which time her aspirations for a career in social work had come to nought. She sought an apology from the university and was rebuffed. She then sued the university. A jury found in her favor in 2003, but the university won on appeal. Young then appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, which ruled in her favor:

Decision of the Supreme Court of Canada, Young v. Bella et al., 2006.

For background on the case, see the news archives of the The Muse (student newspaper) and of The Gazette (official newspaper) at Memorial University of Newfoundland, or the file from injusticebusters, a large, informative website created in Saskatchewan by the late Sheila Steele, that has publicized the cases of many people wrongly accused or convicted of crimes:

Injusticebusters file on the case of Wanda Young.