An MTSU economics professor whose research helped bolster the passage of a law in California explained the study on a recent “MTSU On the Record” radio program.
Host Gina Logue’s interview with Dr. Sean Salter first aired Sept. 19 on WMOT-FM Roots Radio 89.5 and www.wmot.org. You can listen to their conversation above.
Along with Frank Mixon of Columbus State University and Joao Ricardo Faria of the University of Texas-El Paso, Salter conducted research into the bullying of university professors by administrators.
That paper, titled “An Economic Model of Workplace Mobbing in Academe,” presented an economic model that predicted whether or not a professor might be bullied into resigning and under what conditions. It was published in the “Economics of Education Review” in 2012, and you can read it here.
The research was used as a resource in drafting a bill that passed the California General Assembly in 2015 and became effective Jan. 1, 2017. The statute calls for state-supported universities and their governing board to “adopt and publish policies on harassment, intimidation and bullying.”
The sponsors of the California law used the study and other research to provide whistleblower support for professors who could be retaliated against because they brought serious issues to light.
“There’s a specific requirement in the law that there’s a … protection for faculty members who support the claims of students,” said Salter. “What they don’t want to happen is a faculty member to take a student’s claim seriously, to bring it to the appropriate university officials, and then to be ‘mobbed’ because they didn’t sweep it under the rug.”
In sociology, “mobbing” refers to “a horrifying new trend whereby a bully enlists co-workers to collude in a relentless campaign of psychological terror against a hapless target,” according to psychologist Sophie Henshaw.
The study by Salter and his peers was inspired by the mobbing of a professor at a university in the southeastern United States who pointed out what he felt were inequities in his school’s retirement plans.
The professor was forced to accept a teaching schedule that effectively made it extraordinarily difficult for him to get sleep and have an adequate family life, let alone perform academic research. That professor now works at another university.
To hear previous “MTSU On the Record” programs, visit the searchable “Audio Clips” archives at www.mtsunews.com.
For more information about “MTSU On the Record,” contact Logue at 615-898-5081 or WMOT-FM at 615-898-2800.