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  1. #1
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    Professor Reportedly Shoots Colleagues For Denying Tenure

    Authorities say a woman opened fire during a faculty meeting at the University of Alabama's Huntsville campus, killing three biology professors and injuring three other school employees.

    Several students identified the woman who was being taken into custody as Amy Bishop, an instructor and researcher at the university.

    ...Sammie Lee Davis said his wife, Maria Ragland Davis, was a researcher who had tenure at the university.

    In a brief phone interview, he said he was told his wife was at a meeting to discuss the tenure status of another faculty member who got angry and started shooting.

    He said his wife had mentioned the shooter before, describing the woman as "not being able to deal with reality" and "not as good as she thought she was."

    Bishop, a neurobiologist from Harvard University, joined the UAH biology faculty as an assistant professor in fall 2003.

    ...The Huntsville campus has about 7,500 students in northern Alabama, not far from the Tennessee line. The university is known for its scientific and engineering programs and often works closely with NASA.
    [Article is from Yahoo--can't get the link to work though]
    Last edited by agalisgv; 02-13-2010 at 06:17 AM.

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    This happened at my University and I can literally see the Shelby Center from my living room. Nothing ever happens in this town full of boring engineers but in the past month we've had a plane crash that killed two, a middle school shooting (just last Friday) where one 14 year old shot and killed another 14 year old in the hallway at school (funeral was today) and now this woman flies off the rails. It's like I'm living in an alternate reality.

    Unfortunately, the man quoted above lost his wife. His daughter was interviewed by one of the local news channels earlier this afternoon before they'd learned the identities of the victims. She was standing outside trying to get information and got the call to go to the hospital during the news broadcast.

    Here's a link to local coverage.
    Last edited by uyeahu; 02-13-2010 at 05:32 AM.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for sharing uyeahu. What an awful tragedy for the families, school, and community .

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  5. #5
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    How awful. Something similar happened in Montreal in 1992 (a professor shooting colleagues over an academic dispute), and it really is scary, in an occupation that's supposed to be civil and collegial.

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    With the pressure that exists in the world today for people this is something that I feel we will hear more of. Its very sad to me.
    Without fear you cannot find courage

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by MOIJTO View Post
    With the pressure that exists in the world today for people this is something that I feel we will hear more of. Its very sad to me.
    Eys. Many departments in larger research institutions have reputations of back stabbing and sabotage between colleagues and graduate students, apparently due to the pressure to reach tenure and publish. Scary stuff.
    Sometimes I think I lost something really important to me, and it turns out I already ate it.

  8. #8
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    I agree Moijto. Academia is extremely cutthroat, nasty, and filled with jealousy and bitterness. I'm surprised this doesn't happen more often. I'd bet for every prof passed over who actually does pull out the gun there are a hundred that want to but think the better of it.

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    So, this woman shot and killed her brother in an "accidental" shooting 24 years ago? Makes one now wonder if it were truly accidental.

  10. #10
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    Police say a University of Alabama professor accused of fatally shooting three colleagues at a faculty meeting this week shot her younger brother dead in Massachusetts more than 20 years ago — but records of it are missing.

    Police Chief Paul Frazier says Amy Bishop shot her brother in the chest in 1986 in the Boston suburb Braintree. He says Seth Bishop's shooting was logged as an accident but detailed records of it have disappeared.

    Frazier says people who worked for the police department then remember the incident. He says before Amy Bishop could be booked the police chief back then told officers to release her to her mother.
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100213/...VmYWxhcHJvZg--



    The police chief ordered her release before she could be arrested, and the files have now disappeared. Hmm.....

  11. #11
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    ^ OMG
    But Frazier said the media had been fed an incorrect story. He said that there was an argument at the home on Hollis Avenue and Amy Bishop had fired three shots, then fled the house and pointed the shotgun in a motorist in an attempted carjack. She was then arrested at gunpoint by officers.

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    The Boston Globe has a lot more details on the matter..

    Frazier said he was basing his statements on the memories of one of his officers who was on the department at the time and had arrested Bishop. He said the records from the case have been missing since at least 1987.

    "I don't want to use the word 'coverup,' but this does not look good," he said.

    Then-Police Chief John Polio told the Globe in 1986 that Bishop, who was 20 at the time, had asked her mother, Judith, in the presence of her brother how to unload a round from the chamber of a 12-gauge shotgun.

    Polio told the Globe that while Amy Bishop was handling the weapon, it fired, wounding Seth Bishop in the abdomen. He was pronounced dead at a hospital 46 minutes after the Dec. 6, 1986 shooting.

    "Every indication at this point in time leads us to believe it was an accidental shooting," Polio said at the time.

    In an interview at his home this afternoon, Polio, 87, said, "There was no coverup." He said he followed all department procedures and then-District Attorney William Delahunt's office conducted an inquiry and the decision was made not to file charges.

    snip

    But Frazier said the media had been fed an incorrect story. He said that there was an argument at the home on Hollis Avenue and Amy Bishop had fired three shots, then fled the house and pointed the shotgun at a motorist in an attempted carjack. She was then arrested at gunpoint by officers.

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    Awful. I have a friend who teaches English there. She's shaken and upset, but safe, thank God.
    Charter member of the "We Always Believed in Ashley" Club and the "We Believe in Ricky" Club

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    What a horrible tragedy.

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    The tenure process is extremely stressful, and given the fact that this woman seems to have been mentally unstable to begin with (her mom totally got her off the hook for shooting her brother), an unfavorable tenure vote pushing her over the edge is not all that surprising.

    Some details are a little confusing. She's 45, so it would seem she didn't follow the traditional "grad school-postdoc-assistant prof" career path which has you going up for tenure in your mid to late 30's. Either she had several long postdocs (possibly an indicator of trouble), or she had a previous professorship at another university and that didn't work out (also possibly indicating problems). There's the fact that she got her degree at Harvard and wound up in Alabama. There's the coworker indicating she's not as good as she thinks she is and doesn't have a grip on reality. It definitly sounds like she was harboring some serious delusions and couldn't handle the harsh reality of the tenure vote.

    (That's another weird thing....I was under the impression that the tenure process at most universities starts in spring/summer, the candidate submits their tenure binder in summer or early fall, the department sends the information out and asks for external letters of recommendation to arrive at the end of summer or early fall, and the tenure vote in the department is in Fall. Why was this tenure meeting in February?)

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    Quote Originally Posted by susan6 View Post

    Some details are a little confusing. She's 45, so it would seem she didn't follow the traditional "grad school-postdoc-assistant prof" career path which has you going up for tenure in your mid to late 30's. Either she had several long postdocs (possibly an indicator of trouble), or she had a previous professorship at another university and that didn't work out (also possibly indicating problems).
    It's possible she could have worked in the private sector before pursuing her PhD. My former boss was 32 when she decided to get a PhD in survey research.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by susan6 View Post
    There's the fact that she got her degree at Harvard and wound up in Alabama.
    Academic jobs are incredibly competitive. I am currently in a PhD program at a prestigious university, and I can tell you first hand that if I would be very lucky if in 10 years I am still in academia at all.

    R.I.P. the victims of this tragedy.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by susan6 View Post
    The tenure process is extremely stressful, and given the fact that this woman seems to have been mentally unstable to begin with (her mom totally got her off the hook for shooting her brother), an unfavorable tenure vote pushing her over the edge is not all that surprising. ....
    (That's another weird thing....I was under the impression that the tenure process at most universities starts in spring/summer, the candidate submits their tenure binder in summer or early fall, the department sends the information out and asks for external letters of recommendation to arrive at the end of summer or early fall, and the tenure vote in the department is in Fall. Why was this tenure meeting in February?)
    One of the articles mentions that the faculty meeting had nothing to do with tenure. She was turned down for tenure last spring. UoA has a rule that you can't stay longer than 6 years if you don't make tenure, and this was her last semester as it's her 6th year. She was out of a job come May.

    It's also come out that she didn't have a permit for the gun. Interesting. It's looking more and more premeditated IMO. But we'll see.

    There's some speculation that she thought (wrongly or rightly) that the school was going to claim rights to the cell invention and cheat her. It's also been hinted that she got turned down for tenure because she too difficult to work with.

    I'm dying to find out more about the 80s death, especially coming on the heel of the Kerrigan death. I grew up in the area, and I don't know anyone who tried to get their kid off for killing another family member, now it's 2 in one week. Even if you convince yourself that 2 lives need not be ruined, how could you ever face that person again?
    Last edited by berthesghost; 02-14-2010 at 08:16 PM.

  19. #19
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    The Kerrigan thing is a somewhat more ambiguous situation though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by berthesghost View Post
    One of the articles mentions that the faculty meeting had nothing to do with tenure. She was turned down for tenure last spring. UoA has a rule that you can't stay longer than 6 years if you don't make tenure, and this was her last semester as it's her 6th year. She was out of a job come May.
    Most universities (that I know of) have the same policy. If you are denied tenure, you may not find out until the spring. When a candidate actually finds out depends on what level they are denied at, e.g., department, school, provost, trustees, and how communicative the administration is regarding the results. I've heard of cases where the candidate didn't make it out of the department in the fall, but wasn't notified of that until the spring, so this person thought their case was still making its way up the administrative ladder.

    Anyway, finding out in the spring that you've been denied tenure makes it hard to find a job starting in August or September. So you are allowed to stick around for another academic year. Most people don't like to do that though, since it can be awkward. But sometimes people have no choice (the academic job market is not so great these days).
    Creating drama!

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