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Monday, February 01, 2010

Ohio U Faculty Gone Wild: Journalism Prof Carves Arm After Drinking Bottle of Vodka

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism is supposed to be among the nation's elite academic programs. This report in the campus newspaper of a faculty tenure hearing makes the professional training ground for journalists sound like Animal House or worse. And here's more on the story in the Athens News. Vodka and self-mutilation? Threats? Power plays from the top? Even the assistant dean calls it a terrible work environment where professors constantly bully each other. Below are excerpts from Wesley Lowery's report in the Athens Post:

Toward the end of the nearly three-hour hearing, Assistant Dean Eddith Dashiell said she's considered the school a 'hostile work environment' since 1997. 'The school of journalism has had a history of bullying,' Dashiell said, adding that the behavior of the school's tenured faculty during her 18 years in Athens has made her feel threatened and uncomfortable.

Hodson cited complaints from three tenured faculty members as well as a list of eight other incidents of "inappropriate behavior" as justification for his negative recommendation. . . also cited unprofessional e-mails to other faculty members, a complaint by a former colleague and a leak of confidential information to The Post as reasons to deny Reader tenure. Hodson provided the committee with numerous e-mails sent by Reader to other journalism faculty, arguing that Reader's blunt and, at times, profane exchanges made it impossible for him to work "collegially" with other faculty.When Reader said he privately apologized to faculty after some of the heated e-mail exchanges, Hodson said niceties and apologies were not enough to cover a pattern of "bullying behavior.""There's no such thing as 'just words,'" Hodson said. "He didn't apologize for threatening me!"Hodson also recounted one of the case's most bizarre allegations: that Reader showed the school's leadership his mutilated forearms and threatened to put Hodson on his "list." Reader exposed scars on his arms and knuckles from self-mutilation during his divorce."He rolled up his sleeves and showed us where - after drinking an entire bottle of vodka - he had carved the words truth and comfort," Hodson said. The display was not only an attempt at intimidation, but also a threat, Hodson said.

"Dashiell [the assistant dean] . . . described a culture of hostility, where tenured faculty routinely insulted and belittled each other. The school's troubles date back to the mid-1990s, Dashiell said.Her speech provoked an outburst from Hodson - whose frustration finally boiled over from pen snapping and fist clenching to vocal interruption. "We're not here for the history!" Hodson interrupted. "We're not here to discuss the history ... "

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