May 17, 2007

Want to get rid of an annoying academic?

University administrators are familiar with academics who are uncomfortably outspoken, disruptive or different. If these problem staff would just leave the campus, life would be much easier. But how can this desirable outcome be achieved?

The answers are in a book by Kenneth Westhues, Eliminating Professors: A Guide to the Dismissal Process (Edwin Mellen Press, 1998). Westhues, a sociologist at the University of Waterloo in Canada, gives a step-by-step account of how administrators can get rid of troublesome academics.

There are five stages. First is ostracism, to cut the victim off from influence and support. Second is administrative harassment, often in petty ways. Then comes the incident, an action by the victim that can trigger formal retribution. The fourth stage covers the various appeal procedures and the final stage is elimination.

Within this framework, there are many specific points of value. For example, the matter of truth can sometimes be an obstacle, but by following Westhues’ practical principles for administrators it can be reduced to manageable dimensions. Principle one, for example, is that charges should be formulated sufficiently vaguely that hard facts are not relevant.

From this description, you might imagine that Westhues is some sort of academic Machiavelli, giving advice to university rulers on maintaining power. Actually, Westhues is on the side of those targeted by administrators. Indeed, he has been a target himself. His book is an extended satire.

After immersing himself in the details of some 25 cases of academics targeted for elimination, Westhues extracted common features and developed his guide for administrators. To personalise his advice, he dubs the hypothetical target for elimination "Dr Pita," an acronym for Pain In The Arse...

Review of Kenneth Westhues, Eliminating Professors: A Guide to the Dismissal Process (Edwin Mellen Press, 1998), published in Campus Review, Vol. 9, No. 38, 6-12 October 1999, p. 12. Written by Brian Martin.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like an excellent book for bullies....

....packed full of practical ideas for action...

Aphra Behn