Lessons From The Trenches

Does your department have a bully who routinely belittles and berates the support staff or rules his or her students through fear and intimidation? Do you have a colleague whom you've learned not to trust on matters small or large? If this conduct is going unaddressed, you are party to a pattern that is inimical to an academic community, because academic communities rely upon truth, trust, and collegial behavior to function well. Alone, you may not be able to change this behavior, but you can c

Ck Gunsalus
Nov 9, 1997

Does your department have a bully who routinely belittles and berates the support staff or rules his or her students through fear and intimidation? Do you have a colleague whom you've learned not to trust on matters small or large? If this conduct is going unaddressed, you are party to a pattern that is inimical to an academic community, because academic communities rely upon truth, trust, and collegial behavior to function well. Alone, you may not be able to change this behavior, but you can contribute to a solution by thinking differently about the importance of character to an academic community-and then acting on those thoughts.

I am not suggesting that entry-level professionals or junior colleagues commit career suicide by taking on the department powerhouse alone. I do believe that department heads and senior colleagues must consider whether their culture needs improvement in this respect-and act if it does. Such...

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