Reports of 4 people shot, 3 killed at Univ. Alabama Huntsville

Anyone know anything? That sounds horrible. is saying 3 killed 1 wounded. Female (!) suspect in custody.

According to the police she opened fire after being told that she would not receive tenure.

As always, these things suck ass. Thoughts and/or prayers to the families of those gone and those still there. It is so close and a teenager also got shot and killed in that same county just a couple weeks back.

Seems a bit unusual for these sorts of cases that she came prepared for rejection and then acted upon it. If she brought the gun to the meeting she must have made a premeditated decision to bring a gun in to use in case she did not recieve tenure.

Yeah, it was just a week ago at a local middle school. Ninth grader walked up behind another ninth grader in the hall and shot him in the back of the head.

Some other collegiate faculty members can speak to this more, but my Mom got tenure in the Auburn University library and it was a matter of doing a good job and putting in the time. At her university, some departments rarely give anyone tenure. This woman could have been up for tenure for several years and not gotten it. There have been no raises the last couple years in Alabama. If you do not get it, the people up for tenure, obviously, blame the members that give them the thumbs down and can get quite angry. So she was prepared to get turned down again and was fed up, it would seem.

Jeezus, a 4 and 2 year old drowned in an SUV accident in Montgomery, AL today and the 26 year old Mom lived. This and the luge guy has made for a disturbing day.

This is a bit innacurate. Basically, you get one shot at tenture at any given school. You don’t go up for tenure several years in a row. Tenure is the end result of a probation period lasting (usually, but not always) five years. To not get tenure is to essentially be fired in most cases, and it then becomes very difficult to get a job (especially a tenure-track job) at any other university. It’s a life changing moment for those who aspire to a career in academics.

Obviously, that excuses nothing. I’m just explaining the system.

As an aside (or maybe it’s very relevant; you tell me), both I and my wife graduated from UAH with our undergraduate degree. Actually, my wife got her Masters at UAH as well (in lit). Both of us have taught classes at UAH (I in philosophy and my wife in literature). I did not know anyone in Biology and have not seen the list of faculty affected.

Why is the gal’s husband being held?

I know of a prof who applied for tenure more than once. Got a job at Google afterwards.

At the same school? That would be pretty rare.

As for the husband, I can only assume they thought he was complicit in some way. But they may just want to question him.

At the same school? If so, that is very unusual, and he would have been on a very atypical track at a very atypical university.

Rob is right - tenure is almost always a one shot deal at a particular institution and while some people do recover from tenure denial (my wife has some colleagues in this situation) it is usually seen as a black mark in academia.

Note that academia is not Google. Universities look for very different things and the politics are much more difficult to navigate.


At the same school. CSE prof at UCSD. One of my peers had him as an advisor. I think it had more to do with the guy not understanding what it took to succeed in academia than anything.

There’s basically 4 ways to tenure: Publish a lot, bring in a shit-ton of funding, be a great teacher, or be some kind of brilliant savant, so smart that the university can’t live without you. He hated writing, he didn’t bring in any big funding deals, he didn’t teach well. I suspect he believed himself in that fourth category. But since UCSD already has at least one guy who actually was in that category, the rest of the staff didn’t buy it.

OK, but it’s odd that they would actually meet to discuss it more than once. Generally, you get one shot at it, and that’s it. You have five years, and then you are up for tenure. They meet and discuss it, and if you are shot down, you don’t get another shot. So that’s very unusual, if you have the details right (or your friend does).

Actually no one at a major research school cares if you can teach. Because they assume that teaching is easy.


Also what Robert said. You get one shot on the tenure track. Once you’re denied, you usually get dropped to adjunct or instructor level if they even want you to stick around at all. 99/100 times they ask you to move on because that tenure line is a precious resource they won’t squander on someone who failed.


It wasn’t just the friend who reported this; my SO was also still in the dept. at the time, and we have a mutual friend who’s a (tenured) prof in the department.

I don’t think he had another shot; he applied for it, anyway. I think the reaction was essentially, “He just doesn’t get it, does he?” He wasn’t known for being particularly politically astute.

He basically flaked out on my friend’s Thesis, too. (After the prof’d already left for Google.) My friend finished it up, handed it to him, and never heard back. Eventually my friend just dropped out of the PhD program rather than try to change advisors that late in the process – more because he was tired of being poor and wanted a job than anything.

Well, just as you have just a couple of savants, you also always have a couple of folks on staff whose job it is to deal with the Freshmen. There were a couple of folks like that in CSE at both UCSD and at UT. But for everyone else, it’s about money and publications.

My bad. Sometimes, when my Mom rambles, I do not listen quite as well as I should. :) I figured one of “you people” would be along to set me straight.

LOL… just looked up the guy’s old pages. The group he was in doesn’t even list him as an alumnus any more. I get the feeling there’s no love lost there on either side. :)

I should add… I may have some of the details wildly inaccurate, but I am quite certain about him trying to get tenure more than once.

But see, that’s the thing. You don’t “try” to get tenure more than once. A department has to set up a committee. External referees have to be consulted. A file has to be compiled. This isn’t applying for chair of a department, where there’s a simple vote. There’s a big procedure here.