FFS: Faculty Dispairty, Violence and Starvation
I’ve decided to reup my efforts at bringing some important news you might have overlooked this week in a feature known as Forefront Friday Stories (FFS). This week’s news is more of a tire fire, so I apologize and have put a very cute otter gif at the bottom.
Disparity: We’ll start with Dr. Bibiana Bielekova, a renown neuroimmunologist who works in the intramural program at NINDS and this week brought an Equal Employment Opportunity complaint against NINDS alleging gender discrimination in putting her up from promotion. Given that just three women and 34 men hold tenured positions in this program and Bielekova received very positive to exemplary outside reviews, NINDS director and now EEO defendant Walter J. Koroshetz’s policies will now fall under federal scrutiny.
Starvation: Tuesday brought news of assistant professor Juan Rio from Lafayette College. Rio is, by all accounts, a tremendously popular member of the teaching faculty who passed both his department and Tenure and Promotions committee reviews on the way to promotion. For reasons Lafayette College has yet to comment on, the college president denied Rio tenure. Rio opted to go on a very public hunger strike until he receives his promotion.
Violence: News this week of a former Mount Sinai research assistant professor Hengjun Chao who taken into custody on charges of attempted murder, after he shot Mount Sinai medical school dean Dennis Charney outside a Chappaqua, New York deli. Chao had been involved six year long university dispute over data, promotion and integrity that had spilled over to federal court. Mercifully, Charney is expected to recover physically.
I wish I had some amazing bit of insight into these events, but I don’t. Academia is hard and we let a lot of people’s bad behavior go as ‘quirks’ when it’s dangerous and frightening. This sort of shocking violence not unprecedented amongst faculty. And if you are as disturbed as I am, I’d encourage you to look at one my ‘must read’ articles on faculty violence from 2011 from Wired magazine which profiled Amy Bishop, a University of Alabama Huntsville professor who shot six colleagues killing three of them in 2010. The story revealed a deeply troubled woman who had been moved within academia in spite of a frightening history of harassing and harming faculty and how the administration and law enforcement were, and arguably still are, totally unprepared to deal with faculty strife, mental health supports and protection.
Now would be an awesome time for all our awesome commentators out there to share some protips on dealing with these kinds of difficult issues, because if we don’t understand them, we can’t prevent them.
Here’s your cute animal gif, as promised….