From Steve Gilliard, a story about intra-departmental machinations by a senior scholar to derail the hiring of an up-and-comer.
Eleven MIT professors have accused a powerful colleague, a Nobel laureate, of interfering with the university's efforts to hire a rising female star in neuroscience.
The professors, in a letter to MIT's president, Susan Hockfield , accuse professor Susumu Tonegawa of intimidating Alla Karpova , "a brilliant young scientist," saying that he would not mentor, interact, or collaborate with her if she took the job and that members of his research group would not work with her.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, they wrote in their June 30 letter, "allowed a senior faculty member with great power and financial resources to behave in an uncivil, uncollegial, and possibly unethical manner toward a talented young scientist who deserves to be welcomed at MIT." They also wrote that because of Tonegawa's opposition, several other senior faculty members cautioned Karpova not to come to MIT.
She has since declined the job offer.
Of course she did. Not only because, if true, a senior scholar would have been gunning for her head, but because of the behavior of the rest of the department as well. Academia is bad enough, but departments with that level of interpersonal acrimony are like a flashing red light.
I can remember talking about this phenomenon, although not always in regard to gender, years ago. The "star system," and even regular departments can get hooked on a cult of mediocrity, never wanting to hire a serious challenger to the status and power of the old bulls. Cuthroat and defeating at the same time.Posted by binky at July 15, 2006 09:47 AM | TrackBack | Posted to The Academy