Alabama Professor Shoots Colleagues
February 15, 2010
A tragic story of workplace violence hits on Friday. Three faculty members have been killed and three others wounded after a biology professor opened fire inside University of Alabama-Huntsville Friday. As we entered the weekend more about Amy Bishop’s past began to surface. From killing her brother with a shotgun twenty years ago to being investigated for a letter bomb at Harvard.
We have written extensively about the lack of proper background checks in schools and universities. In addition, our soap box has been crushed over the past year from our almost weekly rants on preventing workplace violence. Our current white paper on workplace violence has become a target for web searchers and has become one of our top searched stories on EmployeeScreen University.
What does this all mean? Schools, Colleges and Universities really need to step up their screening process. This is the second major story on workplace violence in the past few months. (Remember the Yale story?) Would a typical background check have uncovered this tainted past? Its very hard to say because there was no actual conviction. However, reference checks may have lead them in the right direction!
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Amy Bishop kept quiet about a violent episode in her past around colleagues and students at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. But there was one personal issue she didn’t mind loudly complaining about: being denied tenure.
Still, those who knew her said the woman accused of shooting six colleagues had never suggested she might become violent. Everyone from family and friends to her students said the intelligent and at times awkward teacher seemed normal in the hours before police say she opened fire in a faculty meeting Friday afternoon, leaving three dead and three wounded.
Investigators have declined to discuss a motive, but Bishop didn’t hide her displeasure over the fact she’d been denied tenure — a type of job-for-life security afforded to academics.
Bishop was up front about the issue, often bringing it up in meetings where the subject wasn’t appropriate, said William Setzer, chairman of the department of chemistry.
“In committee meetings, she didn’t pretend that it wasn’t happening or anything,” Setzer said. “She was even loud about it: That they denied her tenure and she was appealing it, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.”
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