10.26.2005

Campus to Board of Trustees: You Suck!

What sort of bizzaro world do the remaining members of the Board of Trustees live in that they think they can give Ben 'I Spend Your Tuition on Private Parties to Build a Community and You Should Thank Me For It' Ladner a fat severance deal and have the campus accept it? As noted today in the Post, we're more than a little bit angry.

Four of the former trustees have written an open letter slamming the Board decision.

We are dismayed not only by the amount of the platinum parachute, but also by the way it was determined. The students, the deans, the faculty, and donors should have been heard before a decision was made. The trustees only worsened the matter by holding their meetings in secret and demanding oaths of confidentiality. We now know why. They needed to hide behind a cloak of secrecy to avoid listening to dissent, to conceal as long as possible their goal to put Ben Ladner's demands first and the University's needs a distant second. If this is the Board's new approach to governance and transparency, we are certainly glad that we are no longer part of it.



How does Thomas 'Trust Me, I'm Doing a Good Job, Honest' Gottschalk respond? From the Post article:

Gottschalk said the letter "does a disservice" to the school, "states facts and legal certainties that were very much in question and violates assurances of confidentiality in ways that misrepresent the board's action and misleads the public."



Seriously, where do you get a tin ear like that from? Maybe if the Board didn't operate like a shadowy cabal, making decisions in secret, then expecting people to 'trust them,' we wouldn't need former members to tell us the truth. Asshole.

On the bright side, the WCL Faculty once again does us proud with the following (unanimous) resolution. Lawyers are extra sensitive about ethical impropriety. No, really.

RESOLUTION OF THE FACULTY OF THE WASHINGTON COLLEGE OF LAW (WCL)

The Faculty of the Washington College of Law condemns the decision of the Board of Trustees of American University to offer a multimillion dollar settlement to former President Benjamin Ladner, and expresses its lack of confidence in the Board. The Board’s decision represents a waste of university resources and betrays the educational mission of the institution. The reported settlement entered into by the Board is a violation of its legal duties, and should be revoked.

Only a thorough restructuring of the university’s system of governance, emphasizing transparency and representativeness, can put behind us the continuing crisis created by Mr. Ladner’s and the Board’s actions. Therefore, the Faculty urges that no search for a new President takes place before the systemic issues of governance are addressed and resolved.

Unanimously adopted by the WCL Faculty on October 25, 2005.



The worst part is that the Board won't comment on their decision. Thankfully, AU Deserves Better has posted a convenient list of contact info for the Board members here. Use it.

Yours truly,
Mr. X

...fight the power...

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

what is your goal with your smear campaign? I'm a fellow student and find your ranting totally obnoxious. The fact is the school owed Ladner money, the severance was really for only $950K. Your negativity is more costly to the school. Stop the fight and let's move past the issue as quickly as possible. We need to work with the members of the board...they are the people who really built the school over the past 10 years. They have a vested interest too. Please stop making snap judgements without understanding the consequences.

Mr. X said...

Dear Anonymous,
Do you mind if I call you Anonymous, it seems so...well...personal.

what is your goal with your smear campaign? I'm a fellow student and find your ranting totally obnoxious.

Anyway, my goals are as follows:

1) I'd like to get the severance package given to Ladner rescinded.

2) I'd like to see the resignation or forced removal of every trustee who voted to give him that package.

3) Generally, I'd like to see a process of Board governance where there's some communication with the campus community before their decisions show up in the Washington Post.

The fact is the school owed Ladner money, the severance was really for only $950K. Your negativity is more costly to the school.

Moving to your creative interpretation of the 'facts,' the school owed Ladner nothing if they fired him for cause, which the Board determined that they were able to do. Allowing him to resign instead is the only thing that vested the $1.75 million in deferred compensation. The life insurance premiums are just a straight handout.

Even assuming for the sake of argument that only the $950,000 counts as a severance, that's more than a year's salary for a man who couold have been fired for cause. The Board made much of the fact that Ladner will have to pay back the $138,000 he skimmed, but then gave him more than seven times that much. Way to hold him responsible.

Stop the fight and let's move past the issue as quickly as possible. We need to work with the members of the board...they are the people who really built the school over the past 10 years. They have a vested interest too.

I will not stop the fight. The issue is a systemic problem of governance, not just this isolated incident. Moving past it without resolving the root problem will just lead to more scandals in the future.

Many Board members have done many good things to build up the school. Problem is, at least five of them have been forced to resign by the unethical actions of the current Board majority. The past good deeds of the current Board members do not absolve them of responsibility for their current actions.

Please stop making snap judgements without understanding the consequences.

The consequences of accepting this behavior are more severe than the consequences of punishing it.

Yours truly,
Mr. X

...relentless...