CSUN Speaker to Explore ‘Bullying in the Ivory Tower’

Leah Hollis

Leah Hollis

Noted scholar and researcher Leah Hollis will explore the concept of workplace bullying in academia during a special presentation at California State University, Northridge on Wednesday, April 2.

The talk, “Bully in the Ivory Tower: How Aggression and Incivility Erode American Higher Education,” is scheduled to take place from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the theater on the second floor of the University Student Union, located on the east side of the campus at 18111 Nordhoff St. in Northridge.

“It’s of great concern that university personnel engage in bullying or classic school-yard behavior and do it at an alarmingly high rate — twice that of the private sector,” said special education professor Ivor Weiner, one of the organizers of the event. “Bullying contributes to employee burnout, workplace disengagement and poor productivity.”

Hollis, who spent more than 20 years in higher education, chronicled the results of a recent study on bullying in higher education in her book, “Bully in the Ivory Tower: How Aggression and Incivility Erode American Higher Education,” which examines the scope of the problem and offers some strategies for dealing with it.

She surveyed administrators at more than 175 four-year colleges and universities. Nearly 62 percent of the respondents reported that they had been bullied or witnessed bullying in the previous 18 months. While African Americans, women and members of the LGBT community experienced proportionally higher levels of bullying, men in higher education also reported rates of bullying higher than the national average.

Weiner noted that staff who have been bullied seek to separate from the institution or mentally “check out” as a way of enduring the situation.

“No organization can afford the millions of dollars lost to employee disengagement due to a bully,” he said. “After gathering data through surveys and several interviews with administrators, Hollis has developed a model for a healthy workplace specifically for higher education, which is also applicable to the general population.”

Hollis has held faculty and administrative posts at the University of Pittsburgh, Northeastern University and Rutgers University. She has a doctorate in education from Boston University. She has earned certificates in equal employment opportunity law and affirmative action, as well as conflict resolution and investigation from the American Association of Affirmative Action. As president of Patricia Berkly LLC, she speaks regularly on social justice, gender access, workplace bullying and other healthy workplace issues. Her third book, “Bully Beyond the Tower,” is expected to be released this spring.

Hollis’ lecture is free and open to the public. However, seating is limited, so registration is recommended. Register here.