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.
...fight the power...