Friday, January 22, 2010

Collegiality Under Fire has a story about a professor at Ohio University who may be denied tenure because his colleagues dislike him. Among the charges filed against him was a comment he made about one day getting revenge on the professors who opposed him by making them teach on Friday afternoons.

Wow, a hypothetical threat to make a professor work on a Friday afternoon...I can see how that would justify formal charges of harassment and bullying.

The AAUP has always taken a strong stand against the collegiality nonsense. So I can't quite understand why they continue using the language that collegiality is somehow acceptable if it's not an "independent" criteria. What the AAUP means is that if someone's lack of collegiality somehow causes their teaching to falter (because they're a jerk to students) or to produce bad research (because no one will read their papers to help improve them) or to fail to engage in service (because they refuse to be on any committees or otherwise serve the university), then all of that will show up in ways that can be evaluated separate from collegiality. But by suggesting that collegiality is still acceptable as long as it's not an independent criteria, the AAUP's position might be misinterpreted to mean that collegiality can be part of a larger evaluation that includes other criteria. It would be better if the AAUP simply said, "No collegiality considerations, nowhere, not ever."

And if collegiality was a legitimate criterion, it would mean the opposite of what most people think. True collegiality doesn't mean being nice. It means challenging the ideas of your colleagues in order to help strengthen them. That's the duty of a colleague at a university. So the real violation of collegiality comes when a professor is nice to everyone and never criticizes the views of other professors in a department.

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