November 27, 2016

Ulster's Academic Genocide - Year Zero With Vc "Baddy" Nixon...

Readers of this site will be familiar with the bullying that's befallen Deakin University. Here in the UK, Ulster University recently imported one of the Australian university systems foremost bullies when they appointed a new VC who had been the scourge of his staff at the University of Tasmania. Professor Nixon had bullied and muscled his career advance in Dublin, but by the time he reached Hobart, his willingness to sack staff, irrespective of their scholarly worth, made him notorious. Now the axe has fallen on his new empire at Ulster University.

Nixon Darling...
VC "Baddy" Nixon recently warned his Ulster staff across 4 campuses that under "UU’s Strategic Plan – Five & Fifty", "no-one's job is safe". Having closed Maths and Modern Languages, he now targeted the academically distinguished but cash-poor Department of Irish. All this despite a petition signed by 161 academics from 18 countries exposing the damage to Ulster's international reputation, and another 500 letters from professors forming a "dossier of protest" from international academia. Ironically Celtic at Ulster was awarded 5* grading in the Research Assessment Exercise but it just cannot make any money for the VC, and therefore they must be slashed....

The VC says that no staff can regard their job as secure in modern academia and cites urgent financial cuts for the decision. Ulster University's union officials say these cuts are neither financially or academically justified. Substantial cost savings have already been made with the loss of 148 posts earlier in the year, yet the University is sacking more internationally renowned lecturers while simultaneously recruiting new property managers on 6 figure salaries. This big growth in managerial culture is part of "Baddy's" scheme to make the university the biggest landlord in Belfast since rent-books are far more profitable in the north than scholarly papers!

His grave miscalculation is that to rent real-estate you first have to get planning permission and build houses. Ulster has been turned down time after time because their "new build" plans are so wacky! Ulster's VC regards his empire as more property portfolio than academic centre. Consequently, he would like to slash his way through academic departments and run the university as a big real-estate agency. This is a kind of academic genocide, akin to the acts of philistines.

The local branch of the University College Union say that morale is at an all-time low, and that Nixon's regime is like a "year zero" of some mad dictator. Managing 4 diverse campuses, it is also clear that Nixon has resorted to a bullying managerial style to seek to hold the centre together. Faced with a multi-million expansion plan which has gone "belly upwards" and successive building planning refusals, the VC is desperate to save funds to try to keep his business operational. If he cannot get more property "green lights" his entire empire will soon be as financially as it is intellectually bankrupt!

Magee Baby...
Meanwhile, the College Union and Ulster University's Staff Victims Association, have sought to receive financial compensation for the dozens of staff forced out of their posts with the most meagre of financial settlements, and many others who were wrongfully dismissed but lack the means to fight their cases. At the heart of this decimation of academic staff is Nixon's enforcer, Director of Human Resources, "Mad Bonnie" Magee. It was "Mad Bonnie" who was famously described by an employment Judge as "as crooked as you are arrogant" but as Nixon's henchman, "Mad Bonnie" continues to make Ulster staff lives a misery. There was a hope that the police having discovered his prior criminal convictions, and interviewed him for perversion of the course of justice, "Mad Bonnie" would finally get his own P45.

Unfortunately, like his predecessor, VC "Tricky Dicky", Nixon knows the value of keeping an "ex-con" as his henchman. It takes one to know one, especially when Nixon himself has attracted the interest of the Ozzy police in Tassie. So Ulster have come to regard Nixon and Magee as their own nasty beastly academic "Pol Pots". The Ulster University experience raises broader issues for everyone seeking to oppose bullying in our academic community. Universities "export" bullies across international boundaries, and bullying senior bosses will often "jump before they are themselves sacked". It is rumoured that VC Nixon left Hobart to evade disciplinary action for the suicide of a bullied Arts school professor.

At Ulster, a member of the Celtic department had recently to be rescued from the university's Tower Building in a presumed suicide attempt following the "wipe-out" of that department. He had to be talked down from the roof of the tower block where he had taken a deadly cocktail of prescription anti-depressants and alcohol. In the recent past, the suicide of a prominent member of Ulster's business faculty was blamed on senior management. Ulster under Nixon now has one of the highest sickness absence levels of any university in the British Isles. It has been top of the academic union's "stress at work" warnings for decades. A growing phenomena, of academic "genocide" uprears its ugly head in our university system and "thugs" such as VC Nixon and their "hench men" such as HR Chief "Mad Bonnie" Magee are representatives of a "new order" of senior managers.

A united and sustained opposition by academic staff to this kind of academic bullying in the form of petitions and letters to parliament has never been more important. We must strive to find better and more effective ways in which these bullies are swiftly brought to account, the equivalent of the sort of international tribunals which have investigated gross violations of rights in civil society across the world. They need to be exposed at every step of their nasty way! Write to your MLA and your MP. Get them exposed at the House of Lords. Report them to the European Court of Human Rights! Get your story of bullying into the newspapers!

It is our duty and also our own imperative to expose bullying and malfeasance in public office in our universities and colleges. If we do not do it, believe me, bullying managers will come for us. In the immortal words of Pastor Martin Niemoller, who opposed Nazism:

"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Socialist....Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist...Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew....Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me."

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