45th Annual Society for Case Research & Global Jesuit Case Series Summer Workshop

Experience level: 
Intended Audience: 
Christopher Alan Miller

Too Much Power, Too Little Leadership: When the Boss is also the Advisor. A Critical Incident (Embryo)in Bullying, Neglect, and Academic Hazing

5-year Master’s Student and Oceanography Lab Manager, Frank Rizzo, finished reading an email from tenured associate professor Dr. Morris “Mo” Ronald Day, Curator of the Aquarium at Bay on the Gulf State University (BOGSU). Frank had now reached a breaking point. Since Day was Frank’s thesis advisor as well as his immediate supervisor at the aquarium, Frank asked Day if he could get feedback on the latest draft of his thesis that he emailed to Morris Day 3 months ago. Frank’s request seemed to infuriate Day, and he replied that this was not the time to discuss academic matters. Frank was hesitant to push the matter further due to prior acts of retaliation from Day. Frank was content with many of the other aspects of his position with the aquarium but felt that Day was using his position as thesis advisor to manipulate this dual relationship. Day’s previous behavior included assignment of field work in harsher conditions than necessary, neglecting request and harassment for PTO, and intentional threats to both job and degree status. Frank understands that the field of academic oceanography is a small and close-knit group and that every open position has more than 100 applicants, so he did not want to jeopardize his financial well-being, but he also desired to graduate and move on professionally. Frank continues to pay graduate level tuition for every semester until he gets his thesis approved and graduates. With the cost of living rising and the maximum time allowed by the graduate school to finish getting closer, Frank knew he had to act soon. He had to address the professional, financial, and academic aspects of the situation simultaneously and still maintain an unblemished reputation in his field.