- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 11, 2005

American University trustees announced last night that Benjamin Ladner will not return to the school after a monthslong investigation into the university president’s spending.

The Board of Trustees did not address the issue of a severance package, board Chairman Thomas A. Gottschalk said.

“We feel good about the way the board came together and dealt with some very difficult issues,” Mr. Gottschalk said.

He also praised the departing president.

“The board expressed gratitude for the accomplishments of American University during Dr. Ladner’s tenure and for his service as president the past 11 years,” Mr. Gottschalk said.

Mr. Ladner will be allowed to remain in his campus residence for the time being. It was not clear whether he will continue to receive any benefits in his contract.

Mr. Ladner, 63, was suspended in August while auditors examined at least $500,000 in travel costs and other expenses that he and his wife incurred over the past three years. The expenses in question include an engagement party for his son; “professional development” trips for the couple’s personal chef to Paris, London and Rome; nearly $54,000 in drivers’ costs; and nearly $44,000 for alcohol.

Acting President Cornelius Kerwin will continue indefinitely while a search committee looks for a replacement. Mr. Kerwin said Mr. Ladner’s ouster was proof that the administration will listen to students and faculty.

“The way that our students, our faculty, our staff and alumni and friends of the institution responded to the issues dealt with today, has proved that our values are intact, our principles are strong and campus voices are heard on matters of significance,” Mr. Kerwin said.

Earlier, students and faculty members at the 11,000-student private school in Northwest rallied on the main quad and outside the boardroom.

About two dozen AU students gathered at 9:30 a.m. yesterday and marched to the campus building in Northwest where the trustees began meeting at 11 a.m. Except for a couple of protesters, the students urged the trustees to release Mr. Ladner without severance.

Only two students objected to the protest, with one carrying a sign that read: “Ladner built this school.”

Kyle Taylor, student government president, said Mr. Ladner should be fired without severance.

Monica Price, 26, a graduate student in international development studies, said she understood the contract severance terms would allow Mr. Ladner to keep tenure, continue his employment as a professor of philosophy and religion and make 20 percent more than the highest-paid professor, and to receive severance pay double his salary and $50,000 for moving expenses.

Miss Price, of Fort Collins, Colo., said her studies in corrupt government show “how some individuals get away with things,” and that “he’s not a good leader anymore.”

International Relations professor Stephen Silvia said, “Extravagance shows poor leadership” after he learned about money spent by Mr. Ladner.

Several students yesterday wore T-shirts with a definition: “Greed (Lad’ner) n. An excessive desire to acquire or possess more than what one needs or deserves, especially with respect to material wealth.”

Greg Abbott, 23, a public-affairs graduate, helped design the T-shirt, which sells for $10. He said money left over from the costs of the shirts will be given to a Hurricane Katrina relief fund.

Megan Lanehan, 21, a senior in literature studies, began organizing protesting students Sept. 26.

“We’ve been growing ever since,” she said, naming two other organizers — Maeve Reed, an art history student, and Liz Best, a government student.

“[Mr. Ladner’s] not present on campus to run the university,” said Miss Lanehan, of Gloucester, Mass.

n Staff writer Arlo Wagner contributed to this report.



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