Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Saturday, June 23, 2018

Timeline of events in Ladner probe

March 2005 The AU Board of Trustees' six-member Executive Committee receives an anonymous whistle-blower 's letter, alleging President Benjamin Ladner had used university money for personal expenses, including a French chef, expensive vacations and family parties. The Committee begins a preliminary audit of Ladner's travel and entertainment accounts.

April Full board hears the results of the preliminary audit and unanimously votes to continue a more extensive probe of the president's spending. Board votes on a new compensation package for Ladner, which totals about $800,000, including salary and benefits.

May Full board learns of whistle-blower letter. Investigation into Ladner's spending continues.

Aug. 24 Ladner is put on administrative leave with pay. Provost Neil Kerwin is named acting president.

Sept. 28 Faculty and student groups tell trustees they have "no confidence" in Ladner's ability to lead the university during a board meeting. Student activists protest the meeting and are invited in to speak with trustees.

Oct. 1 Ladner's longtime executive assistant, Margaret Clemmer, releases an 11-page statement saying Ladner made no effort to separate his personal and business expenses and insisted on "the best room with the best view" in exclusive hotels, even giving her a guide to fine lodging worldwide, according to The Washington Post.

Oct. 2 Information is released that under the terms of the contract Ladner signed in 1997 he could walk away from the job with a severance package worth more than $1 million.

Oct. 7 Audit documents are leaked to the press, which reports lawyers hired by the executive committee of AU's Board of Trustees said that suspended President Benjamin Ladner should reimburse AU for more than $115,000 for personal expenses and that he should have reported more than $350,000 in additional taxable income over three years.

Oct. 9 Board Chair Leslie E. Bains resigns in order to avoid complicating the board's decision on Ladner's future.

Oct. 10 The Board of Trustees votes that Ladner will not return to AU as president and says Provost Neil Kerwin will continue serving as acting president until a replacement is found. The board announces it will seek $125,000 in reimbursements from Ladner and will report an additional $398,000 in imputed income to IRS for Ladner's tax returns from the years 2002-2005. Moving forward, three committees are established to seek a new board chair, a new president and to focus on improving board governance.

Oct. 11 Board of Trustees member Paul Wolff resigns, citing he "can not and will not continue to serve on a Board that counts among its members individuals who show so little regard for the most basic canons of board governance"


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