Some more information has emerged in the strange case of Amy Bishop, the assistant professor of biology who killed 3 and wounded 3 of her colleagues after she was denied tenure at U. of Alabama, Huntsville. [See here, here, here , and especially here for our earlier coverage.]
The Chronicle of Higher Education has a special section on the Huntsville shootings.
Some new information that has emerged:
- the VP for technology transfer of the university tried to calm Amy Bishop in a phone call about her future. In particular, “he tried to reassure an anxious Amy Bishop that she could keep working on inventions even if she lost her tenure bid.”
- a colleague describes the following:
“At one meeting I was with Amy, she was complaining to a group of us. She said she was denied tenure not because she was a lousy researcher — she’s not, quite the opposite — and not because she didn’t have good classes, she believed she did — I think some might say otherwise — but because she was accused of being arrogant, aloof and superior. And she said, ‘I am.’
- another professor, who asked that his name not be used, expressed concern about her mental health during her tenure review.
The professor said that during a meeting of the tenure-review committee, he expressed his opinion that Ms. Bishop was “crazy.” Word of what he said made it back to Ms. Bishop. In September, after her tenure denial, she filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging gender discrimination. The professor’s remark was going to be used as possible evidence in that case.
It was then, the professor said, that the associate provost of the university, John Severn, came to him and asked whether he truly believed what he had said about Ms. Bishop. (Reached by phone, Mr. Severn declined to comment.) The professor was given the opportunity to back off the claim, or to say it was a flippant remark. But he didn’t. “I said she was crazy multiple times and I stand by that,” the professor said. “This woman has a pattern of erratic behavior. She did things that weren’t normal.”
No one incident stands out, the professor said, but a series of interactions caused him to think she was “out of touch with reality.” Once, he said, she “went ballistic” when a grant application being filed on her behalf was turned in late. The professor said he avoided Ms. Bishop whenever he saw her, on or off the campus. When he spotted her not long ago at a Barnes & Noble bookstore, he made sure he was out of sight until she had left the store. He even skipped a faculty retreat because he knew she would be there.
To be clear, it wasn’t as if the professor told the university that he thought Ms. Bishop was potentially violent. And, at the time, the university was narrowly focused on the legal fallout from a possible lawsuit by Ms. Bishop, he said.
[…] When the professor found out on Friday afternoon that there had been a shooting on the campus, he didn’t immediately hear exactly where it happened, who was involved, or whether the shooter was a faculty member, student, or someone from outside the university. Even so, the professor said his first thought was: “Oh my God. I bet it was Amy Bishop.”
A roundup of coverage from academia-bloggers can be found here. I must say I am rather unenthused by some of the suggestions being made, such as that “collegiality” and “personality” should be given more weight as tenure considerations. There’s a world of difference between being a “lone wolf” (as some of the world’s best scientists are) or an egomaniac, and the behavior Amy Bishop was displaying well before the shooting.
Speculating on her often-remarked on lack of eye contact, the autism/Asperger Syndrome self-help site wrongplanet.net has a thread on whether Amy Bishop may have been an “aspie”. (As anybody who’s familiar with research academia knows, it’s one of the most congenial environments for people with Asperger’s, if not the most.) One of the denizens hits the nail on the head: “From what I have read, I believe she is a narcissist. Her lack of eye contact is more like antisocial, rather than nonsocial. There is a lack of respect, rather than not understanding it.“
UPDATE 1: From Instapundit:
MORE TROUBLE FOR BILL DELAHUNT: DA Rips 1986 Bishop Report. “Three people might be alive today if Delahunt had done his job in 1986. The blood is on his hands. Instead he made a phone call and the case disappeared. Thanks to him, Amy Bishop went on to become a one-woman crime wave.”
It would be easy to dismiss the attempt to link Bishop and the Tea Party movement given the absurdity of the connection. After all, Bishop loves Obama, so how could the “anti-Obama” nature of the Tea Party movement have caused Bishop to do anything?
It’s just that these things have a way of working their way into the mainstream media, regardless of how outlandish the supposed connection.
Keep repeating Amy Bishop and Tea Party in the headlines, and it will not be long before 35% of Democrats believe there is a connection.[…]
Who was it again who invented the “big lie” technique?
UPDATE: Donald Douglas points out that the 3 dead include 2 blacks and one Indian-American, and wonders (half sarcastically) whether there may have been a racist angle. I very much doubt this (Debra Moriarity, for instance, was saved only by the magazine having run empty), but agree that this for sure would have been imputed if the killer had been anything other than a flaming left-winger.
UPDATE 2: James Taranto has a good recap in Best of the Web, and displays his usual irreverent humor in the title: “Going Postdoctoral“.