An American University trustee who had been openly critical of ousted president Benjamin Ladner resigned from the board yesterday, saying he could not support the effort underway to negotiate a severance deal with Ladner.
Paul M. Wolff's departure followed that of the chairman, Leslie E. Bains, who left the board just days ago criticizing Ladner's "imperial lifestyle" and his supporters on the board.
I'm sorry to see Wolff go; he was a calm voice of reason during the whole affair. On the other hand, if the Board is determined to give Ladner a golden parachute, resignation may be the only honorable course.
UPDATE: BenLadner.com has a copy of Wolff's resignation letter, which is very good in its entirety, though this passage stands out:
The need to sever all relationships with Ben Ladner and to have him leave with no severance package is not only a question of money, but a question regarding the future of AU. As Acting Provost Ivy Broder so eloquently stated, "an ethical cloud" hangs over the school. There is an unfathomable depth of resentment on the campus toward Ben Ladner. As our faculty pointed out, Ben's behavior has subjected the University, the deans, the faculty and the students to embarrassment. We must remove the cloud. We must speak out clearly and unequivocally. We must tell the University and all of our constituencies that a new day is dawning and that behavior such as Ben's will not be countenanced. Any payment beyond that required by law will send a clear message that bad behavior has its rewards. People will continue to look cynically upon our University. To compensate ethical lapses only compounds our problems. As I leave the Board, I urge you to do what is right, not what is expedient. If we are to be a school that shows zero tolerance for misbehavior, we must also mete out zero reward for such lapses.