March 29, 2015

Petition to the Canadian Prime Minister to open an inquiry into the cases of mobbing in Canada

...In recent years Canadians have witnessed how dangerous and devastating the phenomenon of mobbing (and bullying) can be.

An appropriate starting point of an inquiry into the cases of mobbing in Canada can be the case of academic mobbing summarized below for two reasons:

1. If it can succeed even in a case like mine, given my academic background and experience, one can easily imagine how successful this evel phenomenon can be in other cases.

2. It started as a case of academic mobbing and despite that the evidence presented and collected at the hearings proved that there was a conspiracy at Concordia (see the summary below) and that Concordia's allegations were completely groundless, the arbitrators and lawyers involved acted totaly inexplicably (see summary) which gave rise to the suspicion that organized crime in the very legal system in Quebec might have been involved.

...In September 2010 I was suspended for exposing academic mobbing practices at Concordia University and for defending my rights as briefly described at:

In fact, in October 2010 most Canadian media spread Concordia University's totally unfounded allegations used to suspend and effectively demonize a completely innocent Canadian scientist, who contributed significantly to raising the international academic standing of Canada, and also sabotage the increasingly successful biennial International Conferences on the Nature and Ontology of Spacetime locally organized by him in Montreal in 2004 (with representatives from 13 countries), 2006 (19 countries), and 2008 (33 countries).

That Concordia's allegations were totally unfounded was proved at the arbitration hearings (see below), but, contrary to the evidence, the case surrealistically degenerated into a progressively alarming case in which three lawyers (with over 40 years of experience) made abrupt U-turns (after initially doing their job professionally), two arbitrators in their decisions not only ignored the evidence collected at the hearings but contradicted it, and Concordia University and its Union (CUFA) waited for an arbitrator to render his decision for 18 (instead of the allowed 3) months until the arbitrator died (and now I am not allowed to see his decision; I was given only a page with a two-sentence unsigned ruling against me)...

...Even before the hearings Professor Kenneth Westhues, a renowned researcher of academic mobbing, stressed that obvious fact in his letter of September 29, 2010 to the Montreal Gazette's Managing Editor and Concordia's President Woodsworth:

"On the face of it, the very aggressive action the Concordia administration is taking against Professor Petkov deserves close scrutiny by bodies outside the university. I was puzzled to read in President Woodsworth's letter that one of the two stated reasons Professor Petkov is suspended and threatened with dismissal is "continued references to Valery Fabrikant." I have read the references to Fabrikant in Petkov's open letter. The references strike me as thoughtful, reasonable, unthreatening, intelligent. They are not unlike references to Fabrikant made by many other professors, including Harry Arthurs, former president of York University. It is beyond me how making this kind of reference to Fabrikant can be a ground for suspension or dismissal."


March 08, 2015

Academia’s 1 Percent

Will your Ph.D. lead to an academic job? To answer that question, prospective students are often encouraged to see how recent graduates fared -- a task easier said than done. Department placement lists are catalogs of untold stories, a logroll of the disappeared. Those who left academia are erased: According to my own alma mater, for example, I never existed, along with the majority of my colleagues who failed to find academic jobs in the Great Recession. There is no placement list for the displaced.

A more useful indicator of whether your doctoral program is a pathway to employment lies in whom the department hires. Because chances are, you will see the same few institutional names again and again. During my own time in graduate school, my department hired several faculty members, all with different specialties and skills, all with one thing in common: Harvard, Harvard, Harvard, Harvard. The evidence is not only anecdotal.

A recent study by Aaron Clauset, Samuel Arbesman, and Daniel B. Larremore shows that “a quarter of all universities account for 71 to 86 percent of all tenure-track faculty in the U.S. and Canada in these three fields. Just 18 elite universities produce half of all computer science professors, 16 schools produce half of all business professors, and eight schools account for half of all history professors.”

This study follows the discovery by political scientist Robert Oprisko that more than half of political-science professorships were filled by applicants from only 11 universities. What that means is something every Ph.D. from a less-prestigious institution knows all too well: No amount of publishing, teaching excellence, or grants can compensate for an affiliation that is less than favorable in the eyes of a search committee. The fate of aspiring professors is sealed not with job applications but with graduate-school applications. Institutional affiliation has come to function like inherited wealth. Those who have it operate in a different market, more immune from the dark trends – unemployment, adjunctification – that dog their less-prestigious peers. The Great Recession is notable not only for its relentlessness – many people, six years later, are still waiting to feel the effects of the “recovery” – but for the way a tiny elite was able to continue their luxurious lifestyle while the livelihood of the majority was turned upside down.

During the first two years of the “recovery,” the mean net worth of households in the upper 7 percent of the wealth distribution rose by an estimated 28 percent, while the mean net worth of households in the lower 93 percent dropped by 4 percent. With wages largely stagnant and cost of living soaring, it made less difference what one did during the recovery than what kind of money one had before the crash. More and more, the American Dream is a foregone conclusion, a tale told in reverse. The same trend holds true in academia: career stagnation based on institutional affiliation. Where you come from remains cruelly indicative of where you will go. What you actually do on the journey is, to the status-obsessed, irrelevant. With institutional bias in hiring now proven by multiple social scientists, why don’t prospective graduate students simply limit their applications to favored elite institutions?

The answer is often financial, and, again, speaks to privilege and discrimination endemic to academic culture. The most prestigious universities – the Ivy League, University of Chicago, Stanford University, the University of California system – tend to lie in the most expensive parts of the country. Even with full funding, it is nearly impossible to live in such costly cities without incurring debt, given that stipends tend to be $25,000 or less. Rather than go to an expensive, elite program, a fiscally responsible student might be inclined to select a solid program with good funding in a cheap city. But academia was not designed for the fiscally responsible: It was designed for those for whom money is a non issue.

Academia’s currency is prestige, but prestige is always backed up by money, whether the expenditure for life in a costly city, the expectation of unpaid or underpaid labor, or research trips assumed to be paid out-of-pocket. As university infrastructure grows more elaborate and US News and World Report rankings become increasingly valued, elite colleges often appear less concerned with providing an education than selling a lifestyle. Whereas students have often chosen a college believing that its reputation would enhance their own, colleges now solicit wealthy students believing that the students’ prestige will enhance the college. The same is true of faculty. As Clauset and his Slate co-writer Joel Warner note, “For a university, the easiest way to burnish your reputation is to hire graduates from top schools, thereby importing a bit of what made these institutions elite in the first place.”

Where does this leave the majority of Ph.D.’s who are not affiliated with the small group of approved institutions? Last week, adjuncts across the country staged a walkout to protest poor pay and working conditions. Adjuncting itself is a product of an academe that operates on an almost Calvinist faith in its 1 percent: Adjuncts are viewed as “tainted” by their own job experience, and their low status regarded as “proof” that they never deserved a tenure-track position. Though graduates of elite universities were certainly among the striking adjuncts – the academic job market is bad enough that even the Ivy League is not entirely immune – most adjuncts tend to come from less prestigious institutions, with their contingent positions a seeming punishment for failing to start out right.

No one’s career should end at its beginning. But for thousands of Ph.D. students, that is exactly what is happening. The candor of studies like Clauset’s and Oprisko’s should be applauded. It is only in recognizing institutional bias -- and exploring the issues of class that surround it -- that hiring can be made more equitable. -


March 01, 2015

Dicky’s Advice for Bulster’s New President

imagesDQYZPCPWAs Bulster’s out-going or just plain “ousted and outed” dictator, I thought I should offer you, as the new incumbent, some advice on how we operate at Bulster University. If you have not guessed this already, my senior team, most of whom remain in place- “Bulster’s cabinet of horrors”- do not react well to change. Our evil Director of Human Resources who I fondly call “Mad Bonnie”; our Lycra if not PVC-girl, the ever elegant Madame De De, and quite a few of the other thugs are (frankly) hoping you are not going to be one of those reforming Presidents interested in staff rights or equality or any of that civic society tosh….

imagesKZ3JEU3WIn fact, I’m not quite sure if I should write to congratulate or commiserate with you but as I see that you have been able to negotiate a pretty good wad of pay for yourself, I wonder if you need my advice at all! But as I think you’ll appreciate, every great man wants to protect something of his legacy. And if that were not good enough reason itself for me putting pen to paper to you, the plain fact is that the incumbent management team are blackmailing me to ensure you don’t immediately sack them all for being the group of under-qualified chancers they collectively are!

So first I suppose I should tell you that here at Bulster we have always kept two sets of books for everything we do…one for the squeaky clean public image we fail miserably to project, and the real books that tell the sordid tale of corruption and senior staff scandals. Our Chair of Council, Banko Mallow and Pete Hopeless, our financial chappie, will fill you in on the bare details. Running a uni is like any business- you can’t let the competition, or DEL or the government for that matter know what you are really up to. And if you are really stuck for advice, go to our Chancellor or “Bilbo’s Elf” as I affectionately call him- and you’ll get the nude truth... as you’ll find out he’s well used to baring his own bum in public!!!

Cold_Feet_rose (2)On the governance side, if you have any questions go straight to Secretary Amos Mullitover and you will see why he was so well named by his parents- its from the biblical for “a burden”. Well this particular Secretary hardly knows what day of the week it is but he can cheat like a Wizard… so he’s been good enough for Bulster- and he’s got me personally out of a lot of bother! Only he could have sorted out the fight between Olly in Legal Advice and “Mad Bonnie” without it coming to a matter of pistols at dawn…..or as would be more likely with these two old killer sharks, poison pen letters at mid-night... If you get really stuck just think of Chancellor Jimmy’s bum! That always cheers us all up…
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Now I should give you a bit of a warning about your own personal conduct when you come to Bulster. And I say this because I see you as a bit of a Mad-Hatton bent scouser! Although we had to get rid of Lady Equality, “old Sour-face” Patience Gunter, as I used to call her, Bulster is still absolutely committed to equality of opportunity and fair-play for all true Bulsterians. We know how to appoint the right one for Bulster, and I only hope Council hasn’t gone and made a mess in appointing you. But we all thought with the long history of governance scandal in your home town of Liverpool (and Slimy Derek’s sacked Scouser Council comes to mind) you’d be our man!

Then I imagine Tasmania has its own share of political scandals and vulgar over-paid Vice Chancellors… and ministers you can bribe over a few nights out in a gay sauna! So we thought indeed with your more recent experience of univerity leadership down-under (Ozzies are certainly well known for red hot  sleaze) you’ll know how to do the right thing… or indeed wrong thing if needed, if you catch my drift.

images5KG211ZEBut you must at all time keep clear of the local Peelers. “Mad Bonnie” has just had a run in with them for deleting phone records, perverting the course of justice, mis-using scientific protocol and this kind of minor thing that we do all the time at Bulster- but the local bobbies dont seem to know their place any more. They seem to have gone mad on what the staff Victim’s Association have been telling them- mostly a load of human rights bullshit. Personally I’d haul them off to a Siberian Gulag! There are a few other cases looming- like destroying police evidence and mis-using her Majesty’s Communications Service which might take more than a ten-pound note stuck inside Buster’s proverbial licence to fix.

images5H30IFIRAnd on that subject I must warn you to keep your university chauffeur on duty even if you go off boozing, or shagging or whatever else power puts into your head when you grab my fiefdom at Bulster. My old pal Gerry Jameson got into so much trouble with drink driving that the peelers are on the road as soon as they hear the Presidential limo leave the pub. So at all costs let the driver take the action, even if you have to bribe him into ignoring your personal off-duty antics. As we VC’s say, “What happens in Bulster stays in Vegas…” or somethng along those lines. I don’t know what sort of fellow you are or if there’s a Mr or a Mrs in tow but of one thing I can forewarn you- don’t get caught with your trousers down in Bulster or the senior management team will blackmail you from here to high noon.

imagesOTDN1YQKI myself had a bit of a mis-understanding a few years back with a young policeman- late one night- something that could happen to anyone in a public place. And, in fact, I must confess the anatomical matter involved (the exhibit for the jury if you like) is so small it could never really have infringed public decency! But the police took a very dim view of it, small as it is, and I was lucky to get off with a caution. Just remember there are undercover eyes everywhere when you are as senior as I am. And if you want me to be frank... that’s also why “Mad Bonnie” is so over-paid... I had to bribe the sleazy ba……rd! to keep his dangerous mouth shut!

Gee I was lucky to get out of the Police Station without a stain on my record never mind my pin-stripe suit! Actually for all the fuss it was not much worse that the time Lord Trevvie, one of my Presidential Predecessors, walked into a hotel kitchen with his flies down and willie out….thinking he was heading into the gents toilets… Another one tried to bribe an evangelical Police Superintendant with a bottle of vodka. Then there was that time Gerry Jameson handed a Japanese Vice Chancellor the business card from the massage parlour he’d visted the nite before. These are all simple mistakes people like us in high office can so easily make…

imagesBZ5SQCEXBut it’s so true that you don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression. The late VC Der Burley had a problem with breaking wind in public. It got so bad certain senior managers thought it was just his way of terminating staff discussion. As I’ve mentioned, Lord Trevvie had that problem with his flies and falling asleep in public... I guess they call it sleep apnesia nowadays. Personally I think the entire management team have it-  they only wake up when they hear the word bonus!

images (293)Then of course my friend Gerry Jameson got this medical problem which made it look like he was roaring drunk all the time, and with  a bad case of Tourettes syndrome to boot. Gerry also was a bit gassy- he used to blame it on “stinky torfu” until his PA reminded him he wasn’t in Hong Kong any more!. Not a very pleasant business with poor old Gerry  I can tell you, but fixable after a touch or two of “Mad Bonnie’s” taser and a bit of a pension pay-off. Good-bye Gerry, hello Dicky!

And as you know I’ve had my own crosses to bear what with that time I fell off the wagon in Dubai of all places, and thought one of those Arab Vice-Chancellors was coming on to me. It was only later that I learned the poor devil has a glass eye. I thought I was well in for the evening there, especially when he fixed his beady eye on me in the hotel lift and seemed to be adjusting his under-garments! Then as I’ve said I made that mistake with a young plain-clothes police offer- and boy what fine gear those boys wear….we must be still paying them all far too much now that the terrorists have all retired….Now enough regrets, let’s get you down to brass tacks on the nasty crew you have at Bulster.

imagesWVF8CFA7You dont have to worry about equality as I let Patience Gunter go as she was for ever getting her knickers in a twist when I told her to gloss over a spate of staff suicides and reports of Bulster’s gross inequality. If the wretched staff gang up on you, you can always rely on “Mad Bonnie” to get rid of any dead bodies. On PR, Secretary Amos will spread around any dis-information an effective President must dispense from time to time. In communications, Madame De De will smile ex-camera for you but don’t ask her to do anything too intellectually challenging…and she can be a bit blunt at times… I heard she actually asked President Higgins if he was in or out of the closet... Luckily one of his aides intervened and told Mr. Higgins she’s asked if she could use the Presidential water-closet.

On money matters, Pete Hopeless is well named but also well-meaning and really not a bad sort at all for a bent accountant. In Estates, Mr Pantelon will be at your beck and call as long as there’s a few readies in it for him, but keep him well away from loose women. But watch your Jordanstown Provost like a hawk…our Mr Daring is just too sweet to be wholesome, and indeed could be a spy!

untitled (206)And speaking of spies if you ever need a couple of old Smiley’s People to do a bit of dirty work, you can rely on the “gruesome two-some” I’ve always used, old “Hutchie Hutch” and “Mal Blunt”, both up to their necks in dirty tricks and cyber-prowling and can dish the dirt on anyone…If you want some really dirty work doing just hire these two retired spooks…Bonnie will arrange it- he has plenty on them too just in case they start bargaining too hard over their rate. Just remind Bonnie about Hutchie’s “not so evangelical” nights of spirit-sodden revival and Blunt’s fondness for blond babes and the Ulster Vanguard…

imagesC7GC4CUEOn the international side, totally bar Richie Mills from student admissons as he’d accept even the toilet ladies and delivery boys for an MA... that’s carrying even our mission to community education a bit far! And on oversight of academic standards be careful to keep Di Maccy’s trap “firmly shut” as she’s surely to quality control what Fat Molly was to the Atkins diet.

untitled (205)Finally, well I can’t say I wouldnt have wanted to hang around a bit longer but Council just wouldn’t have it. So I bid you a begrudging congrats and good luck in the Bulster Zoo…you might even get a K out of it if you can bribe the DEL Minister or better still, catch him with his over-sized pants down…not a nice sight, believe me……. If you are really stuck you can set Madam De De on him, maybe she might ask him a question or two about closets…

Yours Ever, VC Tricky Dicky

ADVISORY…This is a work of humorous fiction and any similarities with persons or places real or imagined is purely a matter of coincidence. If you’ve been bullied at Bulster University or any F/HE institution don’t hesitate in complete confidence to E-MAIL: Victims may complain without penalty under their college procedures or consider making a complaint to their local police. Where the police are contacted bullying usually ceases immediately.