And there it is….Our own Linda Chalker-Scott has been accused of being incompetent and is being investigated by Washington State University. If found incompetent she will be removed from her academic position – in other words she will be fired.
I have had the opportunity to read the investigative report…. And it’s damning.
I mean, you know, if you call 29 pages of rumors, accusations, and the author repeatedly pointing out that Linda isn’t doing a job that she wasn’t hired to do damning.
You can read the report too – it’s over on Facebook. It’s a closed group so you need to get there through this link
Just ask to join.
So regarding this letter — I call BS (meaning Bad Stuff).
I have two major problems with it. First, the report is packed with unsubstantiated “facts” intended to create bias against Linda, and second, it’s an attack on you.
That’s right. This attack on Linda is a direct attack on you. At this point in time there is no University based extension professional doing a better job of transferring science-based information to the general public.
Linda’s appointment is 100% extension. That means that 100% of her time should be devoted to transferring research based information to you, the public. Well guess how she spends her time? She’s giving you what you, the taxpayer, are paying for. The investigators are saying she should do more experimental work – something she is not paid to do.
Do faculty with 100% research appointments do a lot of work to deliver the work of other researchers to the public like extension professionals? If you’re hired to do a job, you do that job. To do otherwise would be dereliction of duty.
This is absolutely ridiculous.
But let’s be honest, Linda is a polarizing figure (if I had a dime for every time that was said or implied in the text I’d be a rich man). Yep. You’ve got that right. She’s strong willed and stubborn and it comes across in her talks and her writings, and that is part of the reason she’s so compelling. And I say, if she is faithfully doing the job she was hired to do, who cares?
If she were a researcher bringing in a million dollars a year no one would care how obstinate she was. The truth is that, in her field, Linda is doing better than the researcher who brings in a million. Shoot, there are lots of researchers who bring in a million, tell me how many extension people have won the number of writing awards that she has won, talked to the number of people she has spoken to, or had their work read by as many people as she has had her work read by? As an Extension faculty member who targets the home gardener and arborist Linda is a rock star equivalent to Paul McCartney.
Unfortunately the area that she has chosen to work in, Extension, isn’t seen as sexy and so she is being marginalized.
But that’s just my first problem. And, I dunno, maybe I’m being silly. After all, everyone knows that doing the job we’re hired to do is overrated. Dang, if Linda had had just a tiny bit of foresight and acquired a million dollar grant working on the cell walls of soybean cortex tissue and then published a couple of papers on it we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
Linda, you silly goose!
Don’t laugh, it’s true.
How sad is that?
Not as sad as the amazing quantity of unsubstantiated material that appeared to be present simply to create a bias against Dr. Chalker-Scott in this report. For example, on page 18 we had the opportunity to read about how an Extension Director was displeased with how Dr. Chalker-Scott disagreed with a soil scientist and should respect his opinions. No attempt appears to have been made to contact the soil scientist or to be specific about the disagreement to establish whether Dr. Chalker-Scott might have a reason to disagree.
Apparently simply disagreeing with an expert is a sin in and of itself.
Indeed, throughout this entire report hear-say seems to be the order of the day. Repeatedly we hear that Dr. Chalker-Scott gets the facts wrong, but we never hear the facts she is wrong about (except in the most general way).
This is ludicrous.
But let me end with the most inane thing in the report. Something that is truly staggering. On page 17 it is reported that an employee who was eavesdropping on Dr. Chalker-Scott through the wall “could not help but notice Dr. Chalker-Scott spent a lot of time complaining about WSU to people on the phone.”
That’s in an official report?
I have no words.
27 thoughts on “Wrong is wrong”
Thank you, this blog post is spot in my opinion. I also have read the investigation report. Twice. In addition to what Dr. Gillman said another thing is striking: ample room is given to lots of detailed accusations. Do we see Dr. Chalker-Scott’s arguments challenging these? No. Whatever happened to the fundamental principle of “audiatur et altera pars” in this investigation? I mean Dr. Chalker-Scott was the last person to be interviewed for this report. She should have been made aware of all these accusations and given the opportunity to respond. An objective and fair investigator would have outlined the complaints and asked for her own viewpoint. Apparently this didn’t happen in a sufficient way for many of these allegations.
Sorry – meant to write “spot on”.
If she has not already done so, Linda should present her case to the Faculty Status Committee. They will investigate all of the innuendo and make their own recommendation to the Administration. Because many, if not all, of the committee members will not be familiar with Cooperative Extension, her packet should briefly explain her job description , responsibilities and expectations. Firing a tenured faculty member is not a simple task. She and her attorney should read the Faculty Manual carefully. I doubt that the Administration could really find sufficient cause under the restrictions of the Manual.
Unfortunately the faculty status committee declined to take my case. One person refused to look at it at all because I’d consulted an attorney. By the time the committee met to discuss it, it was too late and it was tabled until the fall. Maybe the new committee will look at it and maybe not. Just FYI, I did provide the committee with my job description, contract, and the relevant portions of the faculty manual.
We’ll see what happens this year.
Hi Linda – I just read your book “How Plants Work – The Amazing Science behind Things plants do”, and saw this blog mentioned at the end.
I’m an 32 year old IT Analyst (snooze) from Raleigh, NC and really loved how you “extended” your academic knowledge in a logical and beautiful way.
I was quiet shocked and saddened to see this post on my first visit to the blog.
Regardless of the bureaucracy and slander you may currently be experiencing, I wanted you to know that you have a new fan and supporter here in NC.
Thanks, Bret! I really appreciate your support and that of other gardeners who want good science to guide their practices. I’m hoping to get the blog going again this year. Right now my job appears to be secure, so I’m going to ramp up my outreach efforts again. Stay tuned for new posts!
In the meantime, you can find me and about 10,000 other members in the Garden Professors blog group. This is a dynamic, science-based forum for all things garden related. Hope you will join us.
Awful how you’ve been treated, but I’m all to familiar with this stuff dealing with Probate Courts, lawyers and state bureaurocrats. The most dangerous person in the country now is someone who actually does their job.
Rumors and innuendo?! WSU admin. should be ashamed. What a poor reflection on this university
Are any of those million dollar projects worth the paper they are written on? Don’t answer my question is rhetorical
Our university horticultural extension in the UK is now none existent. The way of the world – it used to be part of our horticultural college’s brief – over thirty years ago – to inform the public. They now also fail to put on decent horticultural courses and sadly our horticulture and gardening is informed by media gurus!
I do hope there is somewhere in your great country that can employ Linda to continue her great work.
Thank you for writing this, Dr. Gillman. I am in full agreement.
The underlining issue to me is that the Land Grant University Extension System often seems to forget or only pay lip service to the general public as a valued “stakeholder”, ironically, the ultimate one when it comes to taxes which fund much of Extension outreach.
Here we have an Extension professional who not only values the general public, and has been critical of products sold to them, without having evidence supporting their effectiveness, but is nonetheless being punished for not getting enough grant money from industry.
… (continued) …
And where I see other Land Grant Universities doing the exact opposite … encouraging their faculty, researchers and Extension personnel to engage more directly in the public forum on science based issues, WSU appears to be working toward silencing one of the best communicators of science to the us, the tax payers.
Seems to me WSU has its priorities wrong, and that point is something worth stressing to the administration there, as well as any state and federal representatives.
Oh my- a women scientist disagreeing with a male scientist!
This reeks of ageism, misogyny, hearsay and politics. Reading this report left me with a sense of what people went through when looking for alleged political alignment with the “wrong” party in the 1950s. Accusations not followed up on, poor testimony gathering and an obvious drive to a wanted conclusion. I hope that Dr. Chalker-Scott has a fine lawyer.
I hope that Dr. Chalker-Scott doesn’t give up in the face of this relentless attack. The enormous impact she has had in the garden publishing community – one where misinformation is rife – is completely downplayed in this report. WSU doesn’t seem to realize that homeowners get much more of their information from extension and the internet than from peer-reviewed papers, most of which are inacessible. Dr. C-S provides a valuable conduit for science-based gardening research to the public and she is rare in her field. Keeping research and knowledge in an ivory tower will not improve gardening practices. Recognize what she does well and let her do it, I say.
I was invited to join the closed FB group in support of Linda as a result of working in the landscape design field here in Seattle. I joined immediately not because I know Linda–I have never met her–I joined because I am aware of her work and the number of professionals who reference it to clients and to each other when discussing trickier landscape problems encountered in clients’ gardens.
I am not sure the university is aware of her huge impact in this area. It only took a single teacher in my schooling to have pointed her out, though I had already found her articles on my own doing research for clients.
The body of work she has provided is essential to help filter through all the junk out there. My own horticulture education was terrific, but a program can’t cover everything. I thank Linda for working on the very things that I can use as a professional, both to implement and to point home owners to when they want to do work themselves.
I also agree with the blog post above in that even if she could be stubborn or outspoken (I do not know her so I cannot comment, as it certainly hasn’t come across to me in her written work), this behavior is always allowed when a figure has the clout. Clout in Extension? If her passion is vehmenent, fine. She is for us, for the tax payers. Thank you, Linda.
And as far as the eavesdropping evidence, if the administration had supported her in the job she was reportedly hired to do, then I highly doubt she’d exhibit the “making of complaints.” It’s like calling an abused child wrong for voicing concerns. How long without administration support was she supposed to keep smiling and keep her mouth shut? Please. Let’s be adults.
Linda Chalker-Scott is a Godsend to the Gardening community. I would think that University Extensions would be trying their hardest to employ her. Apparently WSU is caving to the same ‘Ish” that the corporations are falling for, or I maybe should say cowing to those at the top with money and power. Perhaps the Admin at WSU should be looking in the mirror, to see who is incompetent…..
(Reposting my adapted comment from Facebook):
As a current desert Horticulturist, former produce farmer and Northwest native, I’ll be disappointed on both a personal and professional level should WSU part ways with Ms. Chalker-Scott over her willingness to stand her ground with the data she holds. I was happy when I saw WSU was behind the support of her work, especially its accounting of the considerations of extreme climates like those of desert ecosystems, which sometimes demand alternative solutions to common issues.
I recently taught a Myths And Truths In Gardening adult education class in which I discussed a lot of the fine, sensical information that you both have collated and analyzed for the sake of helping everyday gardeners improve their game with real, verifiable science at their back. Finding your publications gave me a huge fast-forward in my mission to find the best science behind common garden truisms. Many of your conclusions settled long-standing disparities between reality and ‘common wisdom’ that had nagged at me as an everyday, dirt-level grower in both field and flower bed, things that even many of my colleagues bought at face value. I enjoy your engaging, confident writing style. Your work and that of Ms. Chalker-Scott saved my bacon, frankly, and its influence in my class inspires lively discussion and a pile of Ah-ha! moments.
Over the past decade that I’ve been in the horticulture trade, I’ve seen so many folks on a daily basis motivated to improve their gardens, support butterfly and bird habitats, etc. – but with so much misinformation and folklore dominating the home horticulture environment, frustration is a common outcome and it’s our job to fight against the death of a budding gardener’s interest. In the face of everything we still DON’T know about how things work in our soil and our ecosystem, healthy scientific review and even passionate debate should be paramount. Home horticulture science is a crucial field and having University-level support is crucial as well.
Here’s hoping this situation gets sorted out for everyone’s benefit and the reputation of WSU as an advocate for truth in horticulture.
I don’t understand this attempt by WSU to terminate Linda Chalker-Scott at all. I was suggested the Garden Professors Blog through a Facebook group GMOLOL. That is where I was first introduced to the Garden Professors and Ms Linda. It was through this group that I became committed to serving my community through the Master Gardeners program in Maryland. Before that I always thought that gardening groups were ridiculous because there was so many myths that were permeating the culture it made a simple conversation with a misinformed gardener infuriating for me. I couldn’t comprehend why people would forego tested herbicides for simple home remedies that, to me, are far more dangerous then their regulated counter parts. In Garden Professors and with Ms Linda I learned that there is a large community of science and evidence based gardeners that are willing to share their research base and knowledge. I decided after that I would be welcome in the Master Gardeners regardless of my bold requirements for scientific evidence of efficacy and proof. In 2015 I graduated and have served as the Master Gardeners Plant Clinic coordinator for my community with a lot of zeal and purpose. I feel confident that when I ask Ms Linda about solutions in the garden she will give me peer reviewed evidence to support her answer. I can’t understand how WSU ignores what a national asset they have on their staff. To me these accusations brim with the possibility that people who have a financial interest in their product’s efficacy are frustrated that Ms Linda expects research based proof to define their products before she will allow them to be recommended to the members of the Garden Professors Blog group. I’ve spent many days in the Garden Professors Blog group sorting out solutions to questions that have been raised by local gardeners in my community. I’ve noticed that several of the detractors (who are also members of the Garden Professors Blog group) in the exhibits that were presented as evidence of Ms Linda’s poor performance are often upset that they have been asked to provide research to prove the efficacy of the products and systems they teach to the public. It’s my opinion; but, I see that it’s quite possibly that some of this hatred towards Ms Linda has manifested itself as an attempt to have her deemed incompetent by WSU so that those who would benefit from her losing her position can use the example to promote their unscientific gardening/landscaping systems and products. I really don’t like to consider myself a conspiracy theorist. But in this case after spending a few years in the Garden Professors Blog group and experiencing Ms Linda’s consistency in requiring evidence. I am nearly convinced that this attempt to fire Ms. Linda is a direct attempt by a few people in a certain industry that I’ll leave unnamed to discredit her with out cause. Ms Linda is an extremely competent individual who has boosted my knowledge in not only gardening but how to evaluate scientific research. I can never repay her for the critical thinking skills that she has taught me to expect from all sources.
This is long winded and the formatting went away…apologies, but I don’t have another day to pare it down. Many issues here. 18 April 2016
Dr. Fran McSweeney, Provost, Washington State University
Dr. Kim Kidwell, Interim Dean of Agriculture, Washington State University
RE: Defense of Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott
Dear Dr. McSweeney and Dr. Kidwell:
Let this letter be considered with the documentation of Dr. Chalker-Scott’s “impact and outcomes.” She (and via her, you, Washington University) are my trusted go-to when I need information in my work. I am amazed that you are trying to get rid of her, and even more astonished that you would do so in such a way (incompetence) that would discredit the work she has done to date. Quite frankly, it is an outrage.
A landscape designer, I have a minor in botany, and training as a master gardener. Lately, I have been spending most of my spare time trying to help a sparse population in rural Nova Scotia, Canada recognize their need to combat alien invasive species in the absence of tangible government support. I do this on a volunteer basis, because university extension services have been non-existent. I also have a website devoted to teaching gardeners the value of botany, and will always consider myself a student of botany…it is as important as air.
Additionally, I have spent many years working in a university environment in basic and biomedical animal research and was awarded as an exemplary employee. So I am familiar with the academic environment and its attendant politics. Something is very wrong here.
Here are some thoughts I have:
Why we need Dr. Chalker-Scott:
The invasive plant problem is becoming widespread and very expensive from a lack of people like Dr. Chalker-Scott. It was extension agents who worked hard, in the early 1900s, to ensure that Berberis vulgaris was effectively knocked back across the Midwest and Canada (without power tools). Invasives and weeds are very out of control now as a result of universities not engaging with the public. Get rid of Dr. Chalker-Scott and I will point the finger at your school as an example of defaulting or ignoring the need.
Having been involved for many years in animal research, I know that research scientists are notoriously bad at communicating themselves, and that is why the animal rights movement has gained so much ground. Science is too introspective, and that is why it is losing support. I don’t have time to read all the original research. Good, clear spokespeople who can accurately communicate what is going on in science are going to be its saviors. You are indeed fortunate to have a person who makes the university shine.
Finally, Dr. Chalker-Scott has participated in 111 INVITED presentations. That is amazing! The world is eager to hear from the university. Bring science directly to people! Scientist-to-scientist is deadly right now, and perpetuates the ivory tower idea. THAT is what is “old school” here. All of the major movements going on now, permaculture, invasive species, etc. are screaming for expertise. And in their absence, rise the anybody and everybody “experts” who are no such thing. Don’t take her away, please?
Original research (AKA, publish or perish):
It is extremely difficult to get quality science written in accurate but lay terms that can be applied immediately and directly to the field. I want to emphatically thank you for providing this opportunity, and through an eloquent spokesperson such as Dr. Chalker-Scott. We live in a time where science is being rejected for “Facebook beliefs,” and the Garden Professors are my anchor to windward. I often get answers to my technical questions within minutes, and at all hours. This outreach translates to better health for the land, and avoidance of expensive mistakes. Isn’t this right along with the mission of an extension position?
Dr. Chalker-Scott is being criticized for not creating original research or running research projects. Is there some magic “production target” number for papers published or funds raised? Are scientists now factory workers?
I personally think she is breaking new ground on how to use social media to make science important and relevant to daily life in a timely manner. That is research that needs to be supported! How can you not see that an impeccable review of literature on subjects (where old wives’ tales are frequently accepted as gospel) IS new and original to the lay public? It makes the work everyone at the university does look good and helps people understand why the work of science is important.
To discount meta-review as not original is unfair…without it, “original” research is so many pieces of disparate information, and we non-scientific lay people are like the old story of the blind men figuring out an elephant by touching its various parts.
It is also the kind of research that is practical to be done by a person trying to get to one’s 111 presentations, and take care of critically ill parents! Most of Dr. Chalker-Scott’s work is peer reviewed, so it meets that quality standard.
Folks, please. Take off the myopia glasses. Putting a “big picture” on many very specific studies IS original. Is a collage in art not original? We need “generalists” to help us to see how all these studies come together.
I see on page 13 of the investigation, Dr. Chalker-Scott is criticized for a metadata article published in 2015 that took a long time…so now scientists are timeclock punchers too? Is quality no longer the rule in academia? I count on universities to go that extra mile…to take the time they need to “get it right.”
She is also criticized for not getting a student’s paper published, but where the fault lay for that is unclear. On page 21 some trees died under a student’s care. Science is like that…sometimes the experiment fails. That is what makes it hard. It seems the grad student should have been caring for his/her experiment. I am not sure why she is blamed for this. Was she supposed to stand by the trees and whack the moles herself? Dr. Chalker-Scott was not even hired with the understanding that she was to take on graduate students, or even do original research, that it was 100% extension. What training was she given to deal with these added responsibilities?
The investigation document criticizes her as a non-team member. Her initiative and hard work has made her an extension agent to the world. I want to make it quite clear that I consider her a strong member of my team.
On disagreements with others, that is natural in academic environments, and should be occurring…as long as the behavior is professional. This freedom of exchange is how ideas happen. Page 23 speaks of Dr. Chalker-Scott’s combativeness and defiance. This is not specific at all and very under-documented; almost mean. These are harsh words…was she throwing coffee cups? Do you require your professionals to all agree with each other? To genuflect, and cow-tie to leaders? Yikes! I think I won’t return to college. Unfortunately, being strong willed is frowned upon if you are not male. In these documents I see a pattern of shifting leadership (and shifting expectations of her) and no attempt for the administration to take its part of the responsibility for that.
It is absolutely necessary that a university employ a range of academic “types”…from the super careful white coat microscope-peering detail people to the more gregarious interpreters of the “big picture”, and the meta-data analysts. Dr. Chalker-Scott is a great interpreter and analyzer. You could be throwing away the next Michael Pollan, Stephen J. Gould, or Jane Goodall, all household names. Do you really want to do that? It is clear in the documents that Dr. Chalker-Scott is a highly productive individual and many good things are said. You would be doing the world a lot of good by enlarging your extension service and putting her at the head of it.
Truly brilliant leaders who have the ability and opportunity to change the world are often difficult, and frequently challenged by the establishment. I don’t know Dr. Chalker-Scott on any personal level so I don’t know if she is hard to deal with or not. But Dr. Chalker-Scott does not say things without backing them up with the hard science. She has pretty good reasons to be confident in her views, and is a real straight-shooter.
I used to sit in the Psychology department in my alma-mater and listen to the investigators argue by screaming at the tops of their lungs at each other. Teamwork is not for everyone…and good leaders are scarce. You have a rare great leader here. Isn’t it your job to help your people succeed? You have so much invested in these professionals. She has gathered a team of very good plants people, more than 6,000, in fact. I am betting most are professionals or serious amateurs.
Time at the office
Page 27: Holding her to time at work is invalid. Is she extension, or not? Let her do her job. Checking her access card records to a single building? She could have been anywhere on University grounds (like a quiet library); this kind of policing is criminal. My personal experience is that she is incredibly responsive. I can count on an answer to a problem or question in minutes online, often from her, personally, at some wee hour.
Page 29: If Mittelhammer REVOKED the “Time at Work” agreement, it cannot be used against her now. (I was amazed by this one). It does not appear that he replaced it with any instruction.
I am not a believer of using sex and age discriminator as a defense, but I really wonder if some that is not involved here, or the fact that she appears to be the only or primary caregiver for her family.
Her 2013 Evaluation says that she “…does not spend much time at the Puyallup Research and Extension Center and this is partly a reflection of the position she holds.” Yes, it is. The woman cannot be expected to be in more than one place at a time. Virtually all of the documentation shows she is great at communicating electronically. Help her to do that for faculty meetings. This is not a matter of not putting in the hours. If she were in her office 5 days a week you could criticize her for not being extension-enough. Get real. The media will have so much fun with this.
On Exhibit 30: Why is she being slapped down for not bringing in money between 2007-2012? Was this not addressed on earlier evaluations? Why is it being trotted out now? Doesn’t current funding mean she has dealt with that complaint? This is a point in her FAVOUR. She responded to that problem, should be rewarded for it, and encouraged, not blamed for something from previous evaluations that has been or is being fixed. That is not fair. I suspect the reason we did not see all of the evaluations is they did not fit the arguments being made against her.
The science (and experience in the field) is showing that the interests of industry are not serving people any more, and it distresses me that Dr. Chalker-Scott is being pressured to obtain funding from sources that prostitute her to their point-of-view, where they control the direction of the work to suit their profit motives. For example, I am in the process of documenting the introduction of invasive plants through mulch and potted plants, which will negatively impact nurserymen’s bottom line. Is this pressure from an industry not happy with her fact findings? Clearly the documents show that is where a good deal of the
university’s source of money lies.
The landscape industry is not confident of her work, probably because the science is showing that some of their practices are flagrantly bad. They want results that make them look good or justify their profit motive. An example from these documents is a paper on “…reducing phosphorus fertilizer use…” I bet they loved that! For the record, I am a landscape professional and I am supremely confident of Dr. Chalker-Scott’s work and her scholarship skills.
I am trying to convince our nursery owners not to sell things like Japanese barberry when it is known to be invasive. They want none of it. But they do respond to pressure from their customers, so Dr. Chalker-Scott is spot-on in avoiding this very conservative industry, because they do curtail her academic freedom to find and reveal the facts.
What is forgotten by the university is that the “stakeholders” in the landscape and nursery industry are the customers they serve. You are demanding she serve big business and not the people living with the land. I have been pushing hard to see universities and schools returned to the public interest for this very reason. This means that people like me need to support the universities more, and Dr. Chalker-Scott is your walking advertisement, showing regular people why we need universities. It looks to me like she is choosing funding that will keep her from being influenced in her work, and that makes her a hero in my book.
She was also on-target to get crowd funding, and has the popularity to get it. Why did you nix it? To be cutting edge, direct your marketing and fundraising to returning to being a people’s university and you will totally dodge the rising anti-ivory tower science misinformation tide that Linda is valiantly fighting every day with that team of 6,000. “No strings attached” kinds of funding might allow a talented person to grow and flourish. It might allow your school to be a leader in a paradigm change.
Page 24 What is the period of investigation? It seems “dirt” was pulled up from 2008 and 9 (see above) but not those evaluations were not part of the record. She is being blamed for things that she has substantively improved upon. Most of the papers mentioned are now published online.
And most disturbing of all, is that it appears her evaluation numbers were downgraded twice by other than her supervisor, as if she was being punished for daring to object or asking that the record accurately reflect errors and omissions. In both cases acceptable performance was changed to borderline unacceptable performance.
Page 25: Is the bolding in #3 part of the original record? Or has emphasis been added? Because the correspondence between her detractors suggests they were digging hard and had a rather weak case. It would be to their advantage to downplay the areas where Dr. Chalker-Scott excelled.
#19 Page 27…narrow focus? Are you kidding? She does a great job of taking original “narrow focus” papers and turns them into language we can understand and apply. Her knowledge in this huge field is vast.
This smacks of professional jealousy. Leadership is lonely. On page 14 Dr. Koenig claims she does not show results and in the same breath claims she is “too focused on numbers?” He also complains that her speaking engagements are “reactive” and not following “their” program, which appears to be faculty meetings and raising money from powerful interests with products to sell. Perhaps you should take a closer look at your program and the people who cooked this up. The eavesdropping part is almost Shakespearean.
Is her popularity enviable? Yup…and the documents reflect the all too common resentment that a rising star gets. That sure sounds like at least part of what is going on here. Professional jealousy, and possibly more. Don’t be stupid. Universities need public support, and Dr. Chalker-Scott put your school on the map for me. If I knew I were dying, I would leave money in my will to fund Chalker-Scott’s position. You don’t find that kind of loyalty every day.
On the charge of incompetence:
Incompetence is a very serious charge. It suggests that there is something very, very, wrong. This is not someone sleeping on the job or doing drugs. She is not forgetting who she is, or missing her speaking engagements. She is not undermining the important work of her co-workers. Her claims about her job description are legitimate, in my opinion. 100% extension is just that. She has enough on her plate.
Don’t even think of accusing her of being unprofessional in sharing documents. They were essential to be able to understand the situation, and I am glad I took the time to do so.
I think you need to evaluate your program requirements and modify her job description to allow your institution to continue to gather the goodwill and quality information disseminated so effectively by Dr. Chalker-Scott on your behalf, instead of railroading this very talented woman.
Just the same, I will encourage her to look to other positions, because I need her. And you clearly don’t see what you have. I want to encourage her to go to the media. I have always looked to science for my answers, and poo pooed anyone who suggested that academia had been “bought-out.” Now I am not sure, because the evidence seems to damn the school for bad management if you lose this person.
The very nature of extension service, is to educate, listen to the needs of people in the field, and respond, because that is how problems are discovered and dealt with quickly (inexpensively). Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott has enormous talent as a liaison between you and the public (whom the University supposedly should serve). Her work should be celebrated and accommodated. Her ability to use social media and engage the public should be taught to your other faculty members, because she has a huge job, and every single one of you should be helping her do it.
Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom, an expert on academic institutions:
“…again we have an example of how woefully underprepared universities are to deal with the reality of public scholarship, public intellectuals, or public engagement. “
Marian Bell Whitcomb
Owner, Plantaholics Design
I don’t think it’s jealousy at all. I think she is being punished for not blindly supporting so-called “organic” practices blindly and for not condemning anything and everything that doesn’t past the ecoterrorist sniff test. Who cares about truth? All that matters is whether it matches the politics the university wants to appear to espouse. I’ve been neck-deep in academia for decades. This thought policing is neither new nor unexpected. The grant issue is a very, very thin excuse. What is surprising is that she wasn’t silenced long before.
It’s very embarrassing for a University to include rumors in any hearing, especially when they come from a conspiracy theorist. After such a fruitful career it is horrible they would treat LCS that way.
Are there any new developments? Have all the Garden Professors gone on strike in support of Dr. Chalker-Scott? Nothing else has appeared on my blog link since this was posted.
No, it’s because all of us are busy and there’s no one really riding herd on us. I’m hoping to recruit some others to do some blog posts in the future. We do have a lot of discussions going on in our Facebook group, which takes a lot of my time in terms of managing a group of over 6500 people.
Stick with us. After I get done with some other deadlines and have a better idea of what is happening with my work situation I’ll try to get things going again.
You should reach out to Texas A&M. You don’t seem to have many folks from the hotter parts of the country, and they have a very strong ag program, with both ag and hort extension.
It is a wonder you can be productive at all. While I think the university is shooting itself in the foot and losing its good reputation in this fight, I worry about YOU, for you are the treasure, and I can’t help but wonder if you would be happier writing more books or away from those awful people. Sue them for a big settlement, then set up your own site…we’ll be there.
After reading all the information, I am not surprised this is happening to Linda. Not because of anything she did was wrong, but academics are afraid of women who are intelligent, good-natured, hard working and stand up for themselves. Even female peers in the same department are taken back by assertive female faculty. I bet if a man was in Linda’s position, NONE of this would of happened and he would be called a “go getter”. Enough of the b.s. politics in academia. I have experienced this too and am continuing to experience it after 18 years in academia. It is sickening. I normally do not jump on the sexist bandwagon, but I have seen other female faculty across the U.S. in academia subject to the same witch hunt. Linda is one of the most productive, responsive, energetic persons I have ever met. It is an honor to know her personally and her huge impact on horticulture. Shame on the administrators who only think in terms of money and peer reviewed research that is read by few people. Her information is shared to thousands of people in a simple, easy to follow presentation that gets the point across so industry, homeowners AND academia can understand. Long gone is academic freedom and the protection of tenure (yes, she is tenured). As someone who advises undergraduates and graduate students, I tell my female students to be careful when deciding on a career in academia. It is a very long, humbling, degrading, depressing road that requires incredible self sacrifice, endurance, and strong self esteem to get through so we can join the “good ole boy’s club”. Linda, you are much better than that and deserve so much more than Washington State University!
Take care my friend.
Thanks, Laura! I remain hopeful that things might actually change in my case. But you are right – women in academia still face an uphill battle.
More power to your arms Linda. Sometimes you have to just stare the monkeys down. Best wishes.