Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Saturday, December 15, 2018

AU gives Ladner $18K for furniture reimbursement

AU gave former President Benjamin Ladner $18,000 for items he left in the university-owned Glenbrook Road residence to save the school the cost of buying new furnishings, according to David Taylor, the president's chief of staff.

Ladner left AU last October after auditors determined he spent university money on personal expenses. Numerous trustees quit and the remaining members are in the midst of restructuring the university's governance and preparing to start a presidential search this summer.

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), chair of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, requested all documents relevant to reimbursement. Last December, Grassley asked AU for dozens of documents related to Ladner's ouster as part of the Senate's investigation of tax-exempt organizations.

Grassley, as well as students and other members of the AU community, were critical of the $3.75 million severance package the board awarded Ladner after his removal. The university is exempt as a nonprofit under section 501(c)3 of the tax code, and according to Grassley, its board of trustees "could be a poster child for why review and reform are necessary." No hearings or legislation related to AU have been announced.

Taylor said buying the furniture from Ladner will be the school's last transaction with the former president, as far as he knows. Ladner and his wife Nancy lived in the house for the 11 years he was president.

AU's finance office determined the value of furniture and fixtures left in the house by consulting furniture dealers, Taylor said. He did not provide documentation of this inventory, and finance officials did not respond to requests for comment made last Friday.

Interim President Neil Kerwin plans to allow the AU community to use the house for events in the coming weeks but it can't be reserved yet, Taylor said.

Moving Ladner out of the home cost about $6,500, a fraction of the $20,000 the board allowed for moving expenses as part of Ladner's severance agreement.

Ladner did not return a phone call made to his permanent home in Maryland on Friday.

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