Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Whose Group Meeting Is It?

One of the benefits at new U. is that there are other Profs. in my little research field. We decided to hold a semi-weekly joint group meeting, and last week was quite an induction.

One of the Profs (Dr. Grumpy) was late to group meeting without warning, so after waiting ten minutes, we decided to proceed without him. He comes in five minutes afterward, and chews us out for starting without him. When I say "us", I mean the other Profs including myself. Dr. Grumpy bellowed, "Never start a Grumpy group meeting with out me! You should have called my cell at the very least." And then he went on about it for another 5 minutes. I was shocked. Was I at a Grumpy group meeting or was I at a joint group meeting? Was I an underling of Dr. Grumpy or a peer? The way he spoke to us was so belittling - and in front of my students! I couldn't believe he would belittle me in front of my own students! And I don't have his cell number, anyways.

He later apologized to my face about his behavior - but he never apologized to my students. I later told my students, "Dr. Grumpy apologizes to you about his awful behavior." (Even though he never apologized to them...) The students sighed and said, "Yeah, he was really scary." Will these joint meetings continue? I've decided that I'll give it one more shot, but if we have another case of disrespect, then I'm pulling my group out.


GMP said...

I have a collaboration that sounds similar. It's basically one really famous dude and several younger people (all started as assistant profs, now all promoted), all of famous dude's studnets and some of the younger people's. It's basically the famous dude's group meeting. He's not unkind, but he has more than once treated one or more of the younger folk (me included) as an underling: for instance, he'd assign me stuff to do for him, and when I refused -- have no time, not my job -- he'd say how his former postdcos (with marginally related expertise to mine) would always do these errands for him.

The meetings happen since we have the large multiyear grant together, and we have to meet weekly for the work. But it's often a ginormous waste of time and it's obvious that not all PI's are created equal. So I totally sympathize with you. It does not look good in the eyes of the students.

prodigal academic said...

That totally sucks (and is completely unprofessional). I am really lucky, and we are all equals in our joint group meetings. I totally agree with your plan. I would not tolerate this behavior--if it happens again, I would pull out, wait a little while, and then maybe try to start joint meetings with someone other than Dr. Grumpy, maybe on a smaller scale or focussed around a specific project so you don't have to snub him.