Ladner the Jerk

I was relieved to read on the front page of the Washington Post this morning that the faculty at five of the six colleges of American University passed votes of no confidence in suspended president Benjamin Ladner. For the record, the other college, the School of Public Affairs, did not have a quorum and was not able to vote. My quasi-secret faculty source tells me that the Washington College of Law vote was unanimous.

If you haven’t heard about this yet, let me point you to the rich and ironic stories that have emerged lately about President Ladner. Ladner has been President of AU since 1997, and since then his salary has risen from a “modest” $260,000 to about $800,000 last year in take-home pay. This unexplained rise to become the nation’s second highest paid university president is even more mystifying in light of his lavish, unaccountable spending habits. While Ladner was leading a private institution that charges the maximum tuition the market will bear (while offering a paltry number of scholarships and grants), and yet urges its students to make sacrifices by entering public service, President Lader felt no such need to sacrifice. A recent report details more than $500,000 in sketchy spending for such items as trips to Paris for his personal chef, and more than $1,000 in limousine trips for Ladner’s wife. As columnist Marc Fisher notes, that's pretty much the definition of irony. Why take low-paying public interest positions upon graduation when you have the feeling that the onerous debt of your education went towards financing the dinner parties of the least deserving?

Just in case he wasn’t acting smarmy enough, Ladner also took the initiative to renegotiate a secret contract with some of the members of the AU Board of Trustees that gave him a higher salary and additional perks. Forget about transparency, not even members of AU’s own Board of Trustees knew the extent of Ladner’s lavishness. Now, as Ladner has the nerve to defend his spending (not, of course, directly in front of the students whom he supposedly serves, who spend their days living in cramped dorms eating Raumen Noodles), Ladner has the nerve to whine that "I'm sorry [the faculty vote calling me a jackass] was done without having access to complete information.”

My only comfort is that according to my semi-secret faculty source, WCL was incorporated into AU in the 1930’s, and maintains a great amount of independence from the main campus, both academically and financially. Still, these assurances don’t give me much comfort when I wonder if my massive tuition bill was going to something worthy like the domestic violence clinic, or to Ben Ladner’s private top-shelf bar. This scandal affects everybody who is working towards or already has an AU degree. WCL is a good school, but the last thing it needs is an albatross like Ladner to pull it back down from an elite institution to just another tuition mill of mediocrity. The Board of Trustees would be wise to listen to the faculty on this one. If the student body here had any kind of voice in the matter, I’m sure that it would agree.


Blogger lokokid said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005  
Blogger Anthony said...

Is there truth to rumor that some SIS faculty are willing to go on strike if Ladner is allowed to return?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005  
Blogger Bob McSnaggit said...

What exactly must one say to have his blog post removed by the administrator, Grover?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005  
Blogger Tri-Cup said...

Yeah, so that was just spam. Normally, I find spam to be pretty amusing, since its grammar often seems to resemble a literal translation of Japanese. This one was for trips to Singapore or something. Since it was completely irrelevant (and appeared about 3 seconds after my post went up), I took it down. Also, I put in that little word verification thingy for comments. Hopefully, that will reduce our doses of spam.

Also, I haven't heard anything about the SIS faculty, but since I'm connected to WCL, I probably wouldn't be the first to know. Still, members of the WCL faculty may know something. I'll see what the powers that be are saying in the next couple of days . . .

Wednesday, September 28, 2005  

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