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Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
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Monday, October 22, 2018

Tenured Chaired Professor Barred From Faculty Meetings, Conferences For 'Bullying' His Colleagues

AratoChronicle of Higher Education, ‘My Fights Are With My Peers’: When a Professor Gets Banned for Bullying:

James E. Miller was a newly minted Ph.D. presenting at his first academic conference when another scholar in his field thundered his disapproval, calling him a left-wing "irrationalist," he recalls, for being sympathetic to Nietzsche.

"He was shouting and gesticulating as if I had just committed a murder in front of everyone," said Miller, who is now a professor of liberal studies and politics at the New School, in Manhattan. "I was not used to that level of intellectual fisticuffs."

He said he was "momentarily stunned" by the rebuke from the scholar, Andrew Arato, now a renowned professor of political and social theory at the New School. It wasn’t the first run-in they would have.

More than four decades after that encounter, Miller is among the institution’s scholars whose complaints of "boorish behavior" prompted the college to ban Arato from campus this fall semester, except while teaching and working with graduate students.

The unusual arrangement, which prompted letters of complaint from some of Arato’s colleagues and students, bars him from discussing university matters with colleagues and requires him to participate in an anger-management program. All of his correspondences with students and teaching assistants have to be copied to the dean of faculty affairs. For the remainder of his time at the New School, he won’t be allowed to attend faculty or committee meetings or public events where his colleagues’ work is being presented.

Arato, 74, who continues to deny the accusations, agreed to the partial banishment suggested by the administration in lieu of a formal hearing by a faculty disciplinary panel. He said he suffers from a heart condition and wanted to avoid a drawn-out process that could end with suspension or even dismissal.

"Since they offered a deal that allowed me to continue my full salary and continue to teach, I thought it better not to go through a hearing that I might lose and would hurt my health," he said in an interview with The Chronicle. ...

Neal Hutchens, a professor of higher education at the University of Mississippi, said applying a "fuzzy" term like collegiality to disciplinary matters is more difficult than, say, dealing with a complaint that involves sexual harassment, where there are legal standards that can be referred to.

"You take a term like ‘collegiality’ and what does that mean?" he said. "It’s kind of loosey-goosey in a way similar to ‘bullying.’ A lot of people have stories about problematic faculty members who might not be involved in outright threats or intimidation, but they do impair the professional lives of a lot of their colleagues and can hurt their departments," he said.

The American Association of University Professors has cautioned against using collegialityas a separate criterion for hiring and promotion, saying doing so could threaten a faculty member’s "right to dissent from the judgments of colleagues and administrators." That doesn’t give faculty members license to interfere with their colleagues’ ability to work or engage in personal attacks, the AAUP notes.

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Civility is the last refuge of people who can't win arguments.

Posted by: Mike Livingston | Oct 23, 2018 5:05:48 AM

The medical profession has done surveys finding that, if they lived their lives over again, some 40% of physicians would not get into medicine. I wonder what the similar figures are for positions at law schools. It really does seem to have become a nasty place to work.

Posted by: Michael W. Perry | Oct 23, 2018 5:21:49 AM

Did the poor little professors get their itty bitty little feelings hurt?
Awww, isn't that terrible!

Posted by: David Longfellow | Oct 23, 2018 6:42:08 AM

Why hasn't he retired?

Posted by: Art Deco | Oct 23, 2018 1:41:34 PM