November 24, 2009

Save University of California

Dear Colleagues,

As you may know, the University of California is facing very devastating budget cuts that could lead to the end of affordable and accessible public higher education in the state of California.

The University of California has been the premiere public university in the United States, offering extraordinary teaching and research opportunities for international students and faculty as well as affordable education for students of any means. Students are now looking at tuition hikes that will put the university out of reach for many of them. Faculty are undergoing salary cuts and loss of staff which means that the research and teaching activities of the University are curtailed.

Many of the cuts are happening behind closed doors, which means that shared governance has been set aside as a basic principle of administration.

Please take a look at the attached petition and see whether you might lend your support to our efforts to achieve transparency to the budget, an affordable education for students, and maintain the tradition of academic excellence at the University of California. It is most important that our international colleagues register their concern about the future of our university during this quite perilous time.

November 18, 2009

Howard Fredrics Criminal Defence Fund

Dr Fredrics stands accused of harassment in connection with this website and breach of the public order in connection with an alleged conversation with Sir "Peter"Scott in the Kingston shopping area, during which issues related to Kingston University's ongoing conduct were allegedly discussed among Dr Fredrics, Mrs Fredrics and Prof Scott.

Dr Fredrics faces trial on 22 and 23 December and is facing up to 6 months in jail for these charges.

Defending himself against these allegations is very expensive and, with all of the previous efforts by the University to run up Dr Fredrics' legal bills to defend a baseless complaint to WIPO and to deal with a veritable deluge of paperwork sent by the University's lawyers in connection with his Employment Tribunal claim, matters have become quite dire.

Dr Fredrics kindly asks for your contribution, in order to help to defray some of the costs of defending himself against these recent charges, to which he has pleaded "not guilty."

How to donate

November 15, 2009

Loved lecturer loses his battle to keep job at 65

THE 65-year-old lecturer who waged a six month battle against forced retirement has been told by the university that he has to leave his job in February.

After two weeks of waiting for a verdict, Ron Delves, a senior film studies lecturer, has been told that he must leave the university at the end of this semester, after a final internal tribunal rejected his bid to stay on.

“I feel deflated. I expected the result in the post this morning and was not prepared for the news tonight.

“It was as though the final meet had never happened. All the reasons they gave were the same as always - it’s the university policy and I don’t have adequate researching qualifications,” the KU lecturer of 14 years said.

Whilst the University can lawfully ask staff members aged 65 to leave, it has no obligation to do so.

A petition signed by 56 film students was given to the Dean of Faculty before the tribunal. “More than anything else I will miss the students. I will miss teaching,” he said. Mr Delves has taught at KU for four years and was described by a student as “truly motivational”.

"After all the coverage in The River, and the petition, I thought I might stand a chance,” he said. Mr Delves was told to expect the news within a fortnight of the tribunal. He received the verdict on the 14 October, but has been told that he can make a further appeal against the decision. “I will make the appeal, but it will probably be the same result,” he said.

Mr Delves was told in February that he was expected to resign in the year he turned 65, unless he had strong reasons for wanting to stay. The appeal process has consisted of three meetings over six months, in which Mr Delves claims the university has been unclear about why they want to get rid of him.

“If they simply want to get rid of me because I am turning 65 then I object on these grounds: It’s pure ageism,” he said.

Stephanie Henderson-Brown, a second year history of art, design and film student, said: “I am devastated. I will be truly sorry to see him go.” Mr Delves will leave before he can pioneer a new film studies module in The Western, planned for the second semester.

University officials were unavailable to comment on the decision.


November 10, 2009

Instances of workplace bullying double - UK

New statistics have revealed a record number of British workers have been bullied in the last six months.

Figures from the union Unison show that more than a third of the 7,000 workers who took part in a survey have experienced bullying over the last half a year, double the number recorded in 1997.

Among the top complaints were rudeness, criticism, excessive work monitoring, intimidation, exclusion and withholding information.

Of those questioned, 80 per cent said the abuse had affected their physical and mental health and a third had decided to take time off, or even left their jobs as a result.

Dave Prentis, Unison's general secretary, said: "The fact that bullying has doubled in the past decade is shocking.

"Workers have the right to earn a decent living in a safe environment. They need to be treated with respect and not forced to take time off work because bullying has made them ill.

"Only last week figures showed that 13.7 million working days are lost every year as a result of stress and depression in the workplace.

"It makes sound moral and financial sense to look after your workforce."

Mr Prentis said the union would continue with its calls for the government to revise the current dignity in the workplace bill to include an anti-bullying policy.

Today's research also coincides with Ban Bullying at Work Day as the union tries to encourage employers and employees to make a stand against bullies.



November 08, 2009

A question of 'conduct unbecoming' revisited

Should those who are concerned about these things wonder whether the questions posed in the posting on this website, 'Conduct unbecoming...' (February 07, 2009), have taken on greater urgency? Here are some observations: On 29th October 2009, there was a letter from Professor Robert Burgess, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester, to 'the Leading Researchers of Tomorrow', in the appointments section of the Times Higher Education (THE) (p. 75). That letter advertised a 'New Blood lectureship scheme.' In the letter Robert Burgess stated that the THE had 'applauded Leicester's very different approach, declaring the University "elite without being elitist".'

Actually, according to the THE, it was Robert Burgess himself who made this declaration: see 'The Winners' booklet for the 2008 THE Awards, included with the THE on 30 October 2008 - '"Elite without being elitist": this is how Bob Burgess, vice-chancellor of the University of Leicester, describes his institution.' Does the THE approve of this? Not a very good example for students or new blood researchers, is it? (And what would the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) or IUSS parliamentary select committee members say?)

The above letter from Robert Burgess also tells the reader, 'Earlier this month the Times Higher Education named the University of Leicester as winner of the award for "Outstanding Student Support".' (For those who are interested in these things, that category was sponsored by the QAA.) The particular programme for which Leicester was 'rewarded' was named 'Access to Employability', which, it was said, 'aims to dismantle the barriers to employment that confront students and graduates with disabilities' (see the booklet included with the THE on 22 October 2009).

To refer back to the posting on this website on 7th February 2009, perhaps one could add to question 3 the question: Do those involved in judging for the annual THE awards ever ask for data relating to the treatment of staff by the institution in the particular area in order to ascertain whether the institution is fully committed to tackling the relevant problem, or whether the programme might largely be a PR exercise? Sources of such data might be staff survey results, grievances and legal claims. I suggest that had the judging panel done so in this instance, it might have been disappointed.

Lastly, did anyone notice that Robert Burgess was himself on the THE judging panel this year, as was the Chief Executive of the Higher Education Academy (Paul Ramsden), of which Robert Burgess is the Chair? I am sure that neither of these men were involved in the judging of the award that went to Leicester, but is it really appropriate to have on a judging panel of this kind people directly connected, or connected through association, to a shortlisted institution?

Anonymous contribution

November 04, 2009

Perhaps a lot of people don't realise...

Perhaps a lot of people don't realise that it's not just academics who are victims in the bullying culture at Kingston University. Admin/Support staff including those in KUSCO (the service company wholly owned by the university and set up by them to save money - joke) bear the brunt of stalinist diktats. I for one wholeheartedly support Dr. Frederics in his continued fight against the mindless morons who run this institution. Cripes, am I allowed to say that?


November 01, 2009

Not Your Child's Playground: Workplace Bullying Among Community College Faculty

Community colleges have provided an entree into higher education for many women. Yet, women faculty perceive the overall climate of community colleges as “chilly.” To deconstruct the interpersonal dynamics that may lead to perceptions of a chilly climate, this study examines the prevalence of workplace bullying among and between community college faulty. The purpose is to understand the nature of harassment, the ways in which women define and respond to it, and the importance of contextual factors in the prevalence.

Workplace bullying is a form of interpersonal aggression that has implications for how individuals perceive the organizational climate, job productivity, and job satisfaction. Findings from this study indicate that workplace bullying among faculty includes many subtle practices characterized by informal and formal use of power, faculty workplace bullying is affected by several enabling structures specific to the context, and victims typically respond with avoidance. This study has implications for harassment policies, faculty involvement in institutional governance, and the gendered nature of interpersonal dynamics.


Leadership Styles as Predictors of Self-reported and Observed Workplace Bullying

The connection between leadership or management style, on the one hand, and perceptions of bullying, on the other, has received little attention within bullying research. Hence, the aim of this study is to examine the relationship between subordinates' ratings of their immediate superiors' behaviours, and both perceived exposure and claims of observations of bullying at work. Based on a sampling process which emphasized randomness and representativeness, the responses from 5288 respondents in Great Britain taking part in a nationwide study on psychosocial issues at work were included in the analysis.

Bullying correlated with all four leadership styles measured. Yet, 'non-contingent punishment' emerged as the strongest predictor of self-perceived exposure to bullying, while autocratic leadership was the strongest predictor of observed bullying. Hence, while observers particularly associate bullying with autocratic or tyrannical leader behaviour, targets relate bullying more to non-contingent punishment, i.e. an unpredictable style of leadership, where punishment is meted out or delivered on leaders' own terms, independent of the behaviour of subordinates. In addition, laissez-faire leadership emerged as a predictor of self-reported as well as observed bullying. Thus, leadership styles seem to play an important but complex role in the bullying process.