Workplace Climate and Bullying

Chancellor Subbaswamy’s statement on workplace bullying:

May 16, 2013

Shortly after my arrival on campus last year, I learned of the disturbing results of a survey about workplace bullying that had been administered to all faculty and staff members.  While the numbers were consistent with those found at workplaces of all types throughout the country, this is clearly an area in which UMass Amherst aspires to be something much better than average.  Although bullying has received a lot of national attention in recent years, most of that attention has been focused on bullying of schoolchildren.  But the survey results here, and especially the poignant comments that survey respondents submitted, point to the very serious effects that workplace bullying can have as well.  Such behavior is antithetical to the values we espouse as a place where all should be free to take full advantage of the learning and employment opportunities the campus offers.  And it violates Trustee policy, which provides that,

  • The conduct of University employees is expected to be characterized by integrity and dignity, and they should expect and encourage such conduct by others.
  • University employees are expected to be honest and conduct themselves in ways that accord respect to themselves and others.
  • University employees are expected to accept full responsibility for their actions and to strive to serve others and accord fair and just treatment to all.
  • University employees are expected to conduct themselves in ways that foster forthright expression of opinion and tolerance for the view of others.

As many of you know, the workplace bullying survey was designed and administered by a grass-roots Campus Coalition Against Workplace Bullying that included representatives of AFSCME, GEO, MSP, PSU, USA/MTA, the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity, the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program, the Labor/Management Workplace Education program, the Ombuds Office, and the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.   Building on the work of that group, a Committee on Workplace Climate and Bullying, which includes representatives of those organizations and offices, as well as several campus administrators and is chaired by a representative of my office, has been working for the past year on how best to address the serious problem that has been identified.

On the recommendation of that committee, the campus will begin in the fall of this year a comprehensive educational campaign aimed at increasing understanding of the problem of workplace bullying, minimizing its occurrence, and clarifying the responsibility of supervisors for ensuring a productive workplace in which all can contribute to their maximum potential.  This effort will kick off with a one-day symposium organized by the Committee and jointly sponsored by the participating
unions and the campus administration.  Additionally, there will be a series of workshops on the topic of workplace bullying for all faculty members and staff.  Details about both of these activities will be forthcoming.

In the meantime, I hope all members of the campus community will consider carefully the ways in which we interact with fellow faculty and staff members and will ensure that those interactions are characterized by mutual respect and civility.  If you have any specific suggestions, I encourage you to contact any of the members of the Committee, who are listed below.

Sincerely,

Kumble R. Subbaswamy

Committee on Workplace Climate and Bullying:

Margaret Arsenault
Wesley Blixt
Amy Brodigan
Kelly Burgess
Maryelen Calderwood
Joseph Connolly
Derek Doughty
Debora Ferreira
Donna Johnson
Joe Malinowski
Nick Marshall
Martha Patrick
Susan Pearson, chair
Randy Phillis
Catharine Porter
Kathy Rhines
Karen Schoenberger
Don Teres
Anna Waltman