Monday, December 5, 2016

What is Wrong with Boston University?

Now and the next couple months is the time of year in which I receive the largest number of inquiries from prospective students and faculty members who are contemplating applying for or accepting jobs at Boston University. They ask me to give them advice. Is it really as bad as I have described on this blog? My replies are too long and varied to fit them all into a blog posting, but one of the questions that comes up extremely frequently both from prospective students and prospective faculty members is whether the threats, abuse, censorship, violations of academic freedom, and general administrative harassment I have documented on this blog are limited to my own program, department, and college or occur in other departments and colleges. I wish I could say it has been my own unique experience, but that is not the case, unfortunately.

As recent proof of that, only a week or two ago, Christopher Ricks, a colleague and friend who for more than a decade directed a major university institute and Ph.D. program called “The Editorial Institute” in the Boston University College of Arts and Sciences sent me a link to an article he wrote for the Times Literary Supplement about his own academic travails, which extend from administrative sneakiness, high-handedness, and outright deceit to what appears to be a covert and furtive attempt, behind his back and without even consulting him, to abolish or radically change the program he himself directs (or I should say “directed” since he recently summarily resigned his directorship in protest at the way he is being treated by his Dean and the University Provost).

No, sorry to say, the administrative arrogance, abuse, high-handedness, and ethical violations are not confined to the Boston University College of Communication. They are everywhere in this university.

His essay is available at the following link. I highly recommend it. It is really too smart for its purpose. The administrators it is addressed to do not deserve having such brilliance wasted on them. They are just not perceptive enough to appreciate it.

Christopher Ricks, “Battles in Boston,” The Times Literary Supplement
It's been called to my attention that access to this url may be limited to a single viewing, with a mere summary statement appearing in its place after that, so please take this into account and copy the text for future reading if you are able to access it but want to consult it later. For the record, Prof. Ricks was threatened with legal action against him by Boston University simply for having told outsiders what had taken place (a common BU strategy of threatening to "bring in the lawyers" to keep a faculty member from talking about problems that has been deployed against me as well) and more or less categorized as a liar (another patented BU strategy: I've been called that more times than I can count by BU administrators including my Dean, my Chairman, and the Director of Film Studies, usually in group settings in front of others and more than once in front of my own students in what were clearly deliberate attempts to humiliate and discredit me with them) for attempting to defend the Institute he chaired, even as BU's administration refused to meet with him to discuss the adminstrative actions that they had taken behind his back.

These other urls have additional information about the way he has been treated by the university.

Small But Acclaimed BU Institute Fears for Its Future

Oh, I just realized that I probably should add for anyone who is not already familiar with this professor’s name and reputation that Christopher Ricks is, beyond doubt or dispute, one of the most important and highly respected literary scholars in the entire world, and arguably the most highly-esteemed teacher and most highly-published scholar in all of Boston University. If he is treated this way by his Dean and by the University Provost, how do you think assistant and associate professors, or professors without tenure, are treated? — R.C.

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For reference, I have another brief discussion of the background of this situation on a later blog page. Click on the January 2017 page titled "No Knowledge No Experience No Problem" and search for the name of this current page ("What's Wrong with Boston University?") near the top and the bottom of the text there.