Zapobieganie mobbingowi akademickiemu


Two Case Studies

Kenneth Westhues et al.

Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press, about 250 pages.


Available from the publisher and major online retailers

Therese Warden and Uhuru Watson, tenured professors at Medaille College in Buffalo, New York, were dismissed for turpitude in 2002. Herbert Richardson, tenured professor at St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto, was dismissed for gross misconduct in 1994. On account of abundant similarities and abundant differences between the cases at these two institutions, rigorous comparative study of them yields rich insight into the nature, sources, techniques, and consequences of workplace mobbing in academic institutions. Especially striking is the difference in outcome: the Medaille mobbings were corrected to significant degree in 2004, while the one at Toronto remains unresolved.

Along with its substantive contribution to the scientific study of mobbing in academe, this book also spells out and illustrates a pragmatist, dialogic, conversational, democratic methodology for research in this field — and in social science more generally. It rejects detached, positivist, authoritarian, jargon-laden methods of inquiry in favor of the classic methods associated with William James, Jane Addams, George Herbert Mead, and others in the early Chicago School of Sociology.

The book concludes with the ten-point strategy for prevention of mobbing in academe, a practical summary of the research program that began in 1991, at the University of Waterloo, Canada.


Table of Contents
(almost finalized, February 2006)

Introduction: Substance and Methodology

Part One: The Warden/Watson Dismissals at Medaille

1. Overview: The Medaille Project

2. Initial paper, October 2002: „The Mobbings at Medaille College”

3. Second paper, March 2003: “The Medaille Mobbings, Part Two”

4. Third paper, July 2003: “The Medaille Crisis in Mid-2003”

5. January-February 2004: “Report on the Medaille Dismissals,” Committee A, AAUP
Part Two: The Richardson Dismissal at Toronto

6. Overview: The Mellen Project

7. “Captains of Erudition: Use and Misuse of Administrative Power,” James Van Patten

8. “Canadian Gulag? Comparing the Elimination of Dissidents by Totalitarian Regimes and of Unwanted Professors by University Administrations,” Stan C. Weeber

9. “A Good Reason for Mobbing,” Jo A. Baldwin

10. “When the Bastards Grind You Under: Conflict Theory versus Social Exchange Theory,”Anson Shupe

11. “A Review of Literature on Tenure and Dismissal of Professors,” Barry W. Birnbaum

12. “Dreams and Reflections on a Sad Chapter in Canadian Academic History,” James Gollnick

Conclusion: The Waterloo Strategy for Prevention of Mobbing in Higher Education

Blog – szansa na ujawnienie mobbingu akademickiego

Mobbing – to szansa na zastopowanie kariery innym

Blog – to szansa na ujawnienie mobbingu akademickiego

‚Bullied’ academics’ blog attack

BBC News 8 May 2007

Academics who say they have been bullied are using a blog to record their experiences of alleged unfair treatment within universities.

There are complaints about „Orwellian” tactics against lecturers within academic departments – and claims of staff being forced out of their jobs.

„Despite the anti-bullying policies, bullying is rife across campuses,” is one of the claims on a website.

And it warns of a culture of secrecy surrounding such academic bullying.

„The bullying of academics follows a pattern of horrendous, Orwellian elimination rituals, often hidden from the public,” says the introduction to a website which carries allegations of bullying in higher education.


A contributor who wants to remain anonymous says it gives a voice to academics who have been bullied.

„It’s a critical issue – there are people in universities almost reaching the point of suicide over this. It really is that serious,” she says.

As well as attacking bullies – both among academic staff and management – the website also talks of the phenomenon of „mobbing”, in which lecturers gang up against a colleague.

A contributor defines this as the action of „a mob, a crowd of normal people who have temporarily lost their good sense”.

There have been longstanding accusations that higher education has a culture of bullying.

Petra Boynton at University College London has carried out research into academic bullying – and says that at any one time, between 10% and 30% of staff are being bullied.

„It’s a ‚secret’ that everyone knows,” she says – with her research finding that bullies, established in positions of power, could be „getting away with it for decades”.


Bullying in universities is typically an insidious, prolonged undermining of individuals, she says – often against staff who feel they have little power to prevent it.

„In some academic areas, it can be a very small world – and bullies can have the power to stop people progressing in their career. And if someone complains, they can be told the equivalent of ‚you’ll never work in this town again’.”

University departments can act like closed „fiefdoms”, she says, with only limited opportunities for staff to expose bullying tactics – „which can be so consistent that it’s almost pathological”.

Even when universities take action against bullies, she says this is often kept quiet – giving the impression to victims that there is little chance of their complaints being taken seriously.

And for the victims, trapped in sustained bullying, she says it can lead to a destructive loss of self-confidence which can lead them to leave the academic world entirely.


mobbing lektura


Reports from Twenty Universities

Edited by Kenneth Westhues

Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press, viii + 410 pp., 7 parts, 21 chapters, hardcover, 2004. ISBN 0-7734-6234-1

Featured Review

Workplace Mobbing in Academe: Reports from Twenty Universities is a new book edited by Kenneth Westhues and published by Mellen Press. I recommend it highly, especially, but not only, for people concerned about the mobbing of academics (usually tenured professors). Many of the observations would be accurate across the board for all kinds of employment situations.

The book contains 21 essays, research, case studies, and „think pieces”. These include essays by Westhues, Brian Martin, David Yamada and many others. The book is divided into seven parts, 1) The concept of mobbing (including a 12 point checklist for recognizing it), 2) narratives, 3) case studies, 4) predisposing contexts, 5) eliminative techniques, 6) techniques of resistance and recovery, and 7) strategies of prevention. This is rich material with diverse viewpoints.

The sections on resistance and recovery and strategies of prevention, are leading edge discussions of the important question of what is to be done once this pattern of activity has been recognized. These sections include the papers by Martin and Yamada. Solid discussions of what can be done to make it less likely that mobbing will occur, and to weaken its force when it does, are still rare. Sections 6 and 7 of this book contain perhaps the best collection on these topics yet assembled. Non-academic readers should not be put off by the academic context. I have been on both sides of the „academic divide” (an assistant professor and a non-academic systems department worker) and my observation is that most of the essentials are not much different. These writers write about academic jobs because that is what they know first-hand, not because they mean to be exclusive.

Nancy C. Much Ross, weblog, April 2005. Read the full review


Table of Contents

Editor’s Introduction iii

Part One: The Concept of Workplace Mobbing
1 Kenneth Westhues, At the Mercy of the Mob
2 Kenneth Westhues, A Checklist of Twelve Indicators

Part Two: Narratives
3 Dhiraj K. Pradhan, A Dream Professorship,Turned Nightmare
4 Hugo A. Meynell, Mischief at Muggsville
5 Enrico Cavina, The Mobbing of an Italian Professor

Part Three: Case Studies
6 O. Kendall White, Jr., and Daryl White, Ecclesiastical Power and the Removal of Professors at Brigham Young University
7 Kenneth Westhues, The Mobbings at Medaille College
8 Joseph Blase and Jo Blase, Mistreatment of Teachers by School Principals: How Teachers See It

Part Four: Predisposing Contexts
9 Melvin D. Williams, The Power and Powerlessness of Academe: toward a General Theory of Human Behavior
10 Carey E. Stronach, The Campus CEO, State Politics, and the Mobbing of Exceptionally Competent Professors
11 Martin Loney, Beyond Reason: Racial Politics at the University of Toronto
12 Irving Hexham, Forget about Academic Fraud, Were You Sexually Harassed?
13 Nathan Young, The Postmodern Classroom: Risk and Shame in Higher Education

Part Five: Eliminative Techniques
14 Joan E. Friedenberg, Political Psychology at Southern Illinois University: the Use of an Outside Consultant for Mobbing a Professor
15 John H. Mueller, Research Ethics: a New Tool for Harassment in the Academic Workplace

Part Six: Techniques of Resistance and Recovery
16 Brian Martin, The Richardson Dismissal as an Academic Boomerang
17 Kathleen Kufeldt, Eliminated but Not Annihilated

Part Seven: Strategies of Prevention
18 Dan Cohn-Sherbok, Lessons from the British System For Preventing Cases Like Richardson’s
19 Roman Dubinski, How to Minimize Workplace Mobbing: a Critique of Westhues
20 Charmian Bondi and Jan Gregersen, Lessons from a Lawsuit over the Harassment of an Employees’ Representative
21 David Yamada, The Role of Law in Combating Workplace Mobbing and Bullying

Blog: Academic mobbing


Most academic mobbing goes undetected because professors fear losing their reputations as scholars. to be demoted or removed from a teaching position is severe punishment, but to be blacklisted unable to find work elsewhere is far worse–not just a loss of a beloved career but loss of an identity. here are stories of others. my own story is told at

Academic mobbing: SIUC’s ugly little secret


Kenneth Westhues opisuje przypadki mobbingu akademickiego


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. WesthuesAugust 2009.

Animalizacja uczelni ?

mobbing lektura

Academic Mobbing: Dirty Politics or Animal Instincts?


An article entitled „Mobbing’ Can Damage More Than Careers, Professors Are Told at Conference” appeared in the June 12th e-edition Chronicle of Higher Education. By the title alone, I thought the article was going to be about flash mobs. I became very curious how they could affect a professor’s career.

In fact, what the article was about was the phenomenon of ‚academic’ mobbing. Mobbing in this sense refers to members of a department gang up to isolate or embarrass a colleague. I was able to uncover web sitesblogsvarious articles, and books on the topic. Yes, mobbing also happens in libraries.

The practice of mobbing was recently reported in the New York Times and the Chronicle of Higher Ed of how Oxford professor Ruth Padel effectively engineered the mobbing of Nobel laureate Derek Walcott when they were competing for a coveted Oxford poetry professorship. Southern Illinois University Carbondale has been criticized in the past for having a culture where academic mobbing occurs.

From my perspective, academic mobbing is simply intelligent academics playing dirty politics or being reduced down to theiranimal instincts:

When songbirds perceive some sign of danger — a roosting owl, a hawk, a neighborhood cat — a group of them will often do something bizarre: fly toward the threat. When they reach the enemy, they will swoop down on it again and again, jeering and making a racket, which draws still more birds to the assault. The birds seldom actually touch their target … The barrage simply continues until the intruder sulks away. Scientists call this behavior „mobbing.”

The June 12th Chronicle article highlights the work of KennethWesthues a professor of sociology at the University of Waterloo, who discussed his studies of academic mobbing with The Chronicle in 2006, and created on the 16 indicators of mobbing.

  • The first stage of a mobbing is a period of increasing social isolation. At this point the ‚target’ is left off of committees or not invited to certain meetings. Colleagues begin to roll their eyes at them during meetings and there is a growing sense that more people dislike them than they once thought.
  • The next stage is one of petty harassment. Administrative requests are delayed or misplaced. They are made to follow the rules and processes while others are able to get around them. A research grant is squelch.
  • The third stage is the „critical incident.” It is when significant accusations are made; a charge of plagiarism, a surprise audit. In the eyes of the mob, the critical incident demands swift administrative action and it is use to reinforce what they have always suspected.
  • The next stage is adjudication. At this point, the mobbing escalates to the administrative level, where it is either legitimized or stopped short.

And then, Mr. Westhues says, chances are the ‚target’ leaves. Whether they are dismissed or fully reinstated, whether it is due to exhaustion, or illness they cut their losses and get out.

Niszczące działanie mobbingu w środowisku akademickim

info mobbing

‚Mobbing’ Can Damage More Than Careers, Professors Are Told at Conference

The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 11, 2009

Washington — It probably wouldn’t be that hard for faculty members to imagine that academic mobbing — a form of bullying in which members of a department gang up to isolate or humiliate a colleague — could derail their careers. But a discussion of the phenomenon today at the American Association of University Professors’ international conference on globalization, shared governance, and academic freedom illustrated that the consequences can be much worse.

The session, based on a paper titled “Mobbing as a Factor in Faculty Work Life,” began with a gripping story about how colleagues and administrators had ganged up on a highly productive tenured professor — think of being subjected to a stream of trumped-up complaints, ousted from an office, shut out of departmental meetings and committees, accused of an affair with a graduate student, and more. The professor was eventually fired and almost immediately afterward died of a stroke brought on by the stress of it all.

The story, actually a composite of the real-life experiences of several professors who were victims of mobbing, was written by Joan E. Friedenberg, a professor of bilingual education at Florida Atlantic University who herself has experienced academic mobbing. Collapsing many stories into one, she said, allows her to better communicate “the feelings of bewilderment and dread that victims of mobbing feel.”

Ms. Friedenberg and the paper’s co-authors, Mark Schneider, an associate professor of sociology at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, and Kenneth Westhues, a professor of sociology at the University of Waterloo, presented their research at today’s session.

Mr. Westhues, who discussed his studies of academic mobbing with The Chronicle in 2006, also offered a handout that included a list of 16 indicators of mobbing. Among them: If rumors are circulating about the target’s supposed misdeeds, if the target is excluded from meetings or not named to committees, or if people are saying the target needs to be punished formally “to be taught a lesson,” it’s likely that mobbing is under way.

But victims should not assume that notifying an administrator will help. Evidence suggests that administrators may find it easier to become part of a mob than to try to stop one, Mr. Schneider said. That’s because administrators are likely to think it’s better to have one person upset with them than a group. And faculty associations, he said, can’t really “confront and expose mobbing unless they are very strong.”

Ms. Friedenberg added that administrators should be forewarned that mobbing can have a boomerang effect on them: Some victims are “driven by detail and an intense need for justice,” she said, and may launch a “significant counterattack.” —Audrey Williams June