Sunday, October 23, 2005

Mesage to AU's Board from a Leeds Church Parishoner: "It's not your money!"

Saturday morning, I had the rewarding experience of holding a “mock class” for about 30 parents and alumni weekend visitors. As part of the presentation, I conducted an exercise with which I begin my classes each semester. I asked each member of the group to introduce themselves to another member, nothing something of interest. Then members of the group were asked to share something about their partner. Many spoke about their professions. There was an IRS auditor, two small business owners, telecommunications consultant who had become a teacher… and the like. These were not “big money” professions.

A conversation with a friend after attending Sunday services as Leeds Church reminded of this. My friend is a very senior executive with a large international corporation, based in Virginia, clearly a “big money” profession. His income is probably seven figures and his personal fortune is substantial.

I am now resigned to the weekly conversations about the latest Dr. Ladner stories in the news at coffee hour, but this one surprised me. My friend expressed outrage at the proposed severance package that the Board was reportedly offering Dr. Ladner. When I suggested that board members – and Dr. Ladner too – simply lived in a different world than AU’s students, their parents, faculty and staff, he would have none of it. It doesn’t matter how the board members live their own lives, he said. Dr, Ladner’s reported lifestyle and the severance package being discussed are inconsistent with the purposes of a university. Frankly, I think such a severance would be immoral, he continued. AU’s Board members need to remember that “it’s not their money” they are proposing to award to Dr. Ladner. It is the tuition of University students and their parents. When students and parents wrote their checks, their intention was support education, not high living.


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1:25 PM  
Anonymous a colleague said...

Bravo to your friend for pointing out the immorality of both Dr. Ladner's extravagance and the Board's outrageous severance offer. The Board clearly has shown its disdain for students, parents, faculty, staff, and alumni. It rewards unethical behavior with $4 million. What a lesson to teach!!!

5:11 PM  
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7:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kudos!!! As an AU Alumni, I understand why alumni support is down. Many alumni experienced less than favorable years at AU- resulting in uninspiring contributions. This is yet another instance leaving a sour taste in the mouths of alumni and current students alike. It is evident, just in visiting the campus that Dr. Ladner has had a positive impact on AU; however, his actions will negatively impact the university in ways many have yet to consider. For an institution who's endowment is as low as it is, a $4million severance seems extraordinarily high. Why not just pay 3 months salary- the norm in job termination. Given Dr. Ladner's case, especially, that's more than enough.

10:10 AM  

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