Monday, August 11, 2008

Higher Education Bullies. When will people learn?

Last week, I had a very meaningful conversation with a woman who, as the first female president of a 100-year-old state college, battled against two bullies for more than three years before she felt compelled to resign due to their complete undermining of her position and career. At the same time, despite attacks on all fronts, this amazing woman racked up numerous successes in developing, advancing, and promoting the college.

From the time Dr. Uma Gupta assumed the position of President of the college until her resignation, she was systematically bullied by the Vice President of Administrative Affairs and the Vice President for Academic Affairs in a detailed, joint plot to remove Dr. Gupta and make the VP of Academic Affairs interim president.

The two VP bullies lied to Dr. Gupta and lied about her, not only among administration and faculty, but also to students, campus-wide. They phoned her house during the night, and hung up without speaking. They pulled their cars in and out of her driveway in the middle of the night. They stalked her when she was on personal errands and shopping. They began sending emails via her college ID code. In a word, the bullies were relentless, but Dr. Gupta managed to deal with it until they launched an anonymous, mean-spirited blog, available to the entire campus and the world.

“At that point,” said Dr. Gupta, “it became so big, there was no way you could get your arms around it.” Despite the evidence against the VP bullies, for the sake of her family, the college, and herself, it was time to resign.

Today Dr. Gupta is a successful entrepreneur with particular focus on India. Her consulting company, Global Cube It, ( brings insight and expertise to three practice areas: global business development; internationalization of universities; and educational, spiritual, and service-oriented tours.

For Dr. Gupta’s official account of her experience as the target of malicious workplace bullies, visit

1 comment:

Mimi Meredith said...

Academia is a place that can foster very clever bullies who can couch their tactics in "for the good of the institution" language. It is hard to know when to summon all our resilience to resist such negative forces, and when to realize, as this woman did, that the battle is not worth the cost.

Thank you for sharing these stories, Jean.