Thursday, December 08, 2005

The attacks from an Econ professor continue!

It just gets better! As if the first post wasn't enough: the vicious attack on Zimmerman continues. He claims vendetta because Zimmerman insists that the faculty member publish new research. He offers inuendo about how "we all know" that Zimmerman deceitfully influences decisions around COLS.

One can debate the merits of Zimmerman's recent enforcement of publication for research release, but that is the most civil part of the note. It goes off the deep end by proclaiming rumors as the truth about Zimmermans reign of evil (my own words, though close to the ones used in the letter).

Has this person gone off their meds? What sort of response does he expect from anyone? Does he expect some sort of uprising? Why is he making such claims on the public listserv? Has this agreved party consented to this line of "defense?" Has our "mistreated" colleague filed a grievance according to established procedures?

One has to imagine that he wants to test the limits of the rules governing free speech by faculty members. How nasty and bitter can you publicly be without being chastised (or worse) by the administration? When does mudslinging end and slander begin? Can we increase the speed of transfer and send these people over to the college of business before they start frothing at the mouth?

My earlier email statement of the story was based upon what I was told by my mentee. Had it been the only example of his being singled out by the Dean, I might not have believed it either. But it was not.

A month or two ago, my mentee submitted a Curriculum Modification Plan for the next three years. In it he listed two articles in refereed journals (J Human Res., Fall 2003; J Applied Econometrics, Winter 2004) that he has published in the three years since he's been here, as well as a Graduate level textbook on which he is a contributing author and for which he wrote a solutions CD that solves all the problems in the book.

Dean Zimmerman only provisionally approved the plan, i.e. for 1 year only, because "you have not published any of the work from your previous modification in a refereed journal." So (a) apparently the two refereed publications don't count, because while they were published in the last two years, the work on them was not entirely done within the past two years, and (b) the contributions to a textbook were "not published a refereed journal."

It's bad enough that the Dean has more than once refused to give him credit for those two publications, inaccurately claiming that they were "already in press when he was hired." True, most of the work on them was done while he was a Graduate student, but where in the Handbook does it say that only research produced after coming here is scholarly achievement? How can the Dean arbitrarily impose this interpretation of scholarship on a third year faculty member, when it clearly makes it virtually impossible to demonstrate scholarly achievement in the first few years? And does the Dean apply this interpretation uniformly to all junior faculty, or only to those in departments he has targeted?

Far worse however is the Dean's disingenuous refusal to count the contributions to a Graduate textbook, on the pretext that it was not published in a refereed journal. Where in the Handbook is scholarship limited to journal publications? When did textbook publications cease to be considered scholarly? Or is this almost certainly a case where the Dean has chosen to impose on an Economics junior faculty member a discriminatory standard that he does not impose elsewhere?

Despite three publications in his first three years here, my mentee has been threatened with an increased teaching load unless he publishes another article in the next 10 months. Is it a surprise that he feels he has a target on his back? Is it a surprise that, when the Dean made disparaging remarks about himself as a "tree killer" and his work as "drivel," he took those remarks seriously?

(Interestingly enough, while the Dean denies making those statements, Maureen Winkler, not know the background or the fact that my mentee has family member who are loggers, thought the statements were in jest. I can assure all of you that, given the way the Dean has treated his scholarship so far, my mentee did not take the Dean's disparagements lightly.)

We all know that this is not an isolated incident. We all know that the Dean routinely oversteps bounds. And we all know that we routinely let him get away with it. For years, he tried to force junior faculty to provide him with all their written student comments, despite the fact that on the Handbook as adopted through faculty governance can specify what needs to go into personnel documents - and most of us let him get away with it.

We all know that he interfered with the Art Departments selection of a chair, despite the fact that our Handbook specifies no role whatsoever for the Dean in that decision - and we let him get away with it. We all know that he refused to allow Philosophy to interview their top job candidate, stepping well beyond his authority in hiring decisions decision - and we let him get away with it.

So let me ask a simple question - when is this BS going to stop? I have no intention of letting the Dean railroad my junior colleague out of here, and I'm putting everyone, the Dean especially, on notice of that fact. But am I really the only one willing to stand up to this nonsense? Is everyone so cowed that they will be the next target of Dean Zimmerman's arbitrary and capricious authority, that you are all willing to accept his vendettas as normal?

Or have we finally reached a point where enough is enough?

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