I am going to miss Ben Ladner.Ã¿ I am going to miss seeing the perfect shine ofÃ¿his chauffeured black car drive by as I waited interminably long periods in theÃ¿rain and the cold for an AU Shuttle to the metro. His license plate said AU One.Ã¿ IÃ¿thought about the AU one I had, as my middle finger tried to rise out of my coatÃ¿pocket as I saw my tuition dollars drive down his driveway with my brokenÃ¿dreams.Ã¿ I wish I had less self-restraint.
I am going to miss the Where’s Waldo aspect of spotting him on campus.Ã¿ I onceÃ¿saw him in 2000 on the stairwell next to experimental theater.Ã¿ He didn’t sayÃ¿anything, but his eyes said, “You caught me!”Ã¿ When I graduated in 2002 and he spoke to my class, I swear to God I think it was the first time I saw him in personÃ¿without him running the other way.
I am going to miss the 15-point-plan.Ã¿ The plan where point fifteen I believe was for every member of the campus community to lose weight.Ã¿ I found thisÃ¿ironic cause Ladner’s the guy who opened up campus to McDonalds, Chic-fil-AÃ¿and Subway.
I am going to miss the guy who killed the old tavern and put those fugly crayolaÃ¿death chairs in there instead.Ã¿
Getting back to that license plate, I think it also said “No Taxation withoutÃ¿representation,” I guess Ben didn’t get the memo on that one either.Ã¿ DC’s aboutÃ¿paying a premium for the privilege of being here.Ã¿ That’s what they tell us everyÃ¿time they jack up tuition or when they charge us Georgetown rates for SpringÃ¿Valley parking. AU’s got representation now, finally.Ã¿ It’s time for Ben to pay up.
SPA, Class of 2002
The upheaval currently afflicting the university over the dismissal of President Ladner and the calls for real student and faculty representation on the Board of Trustees is nothing new—I went through the same exact experience as a student leader during the protests surrounding the resignation of then-President Berendzen in 1990.
Then, as now, a President of the university left his position in disgrace.Ã¿ Then, as now, masses of students and faculty took to the quad and demonstrated for real, voting representation on the Board of Trustees.Ã¿ In our case, we were successful in our demands that the Board of Trustees not pay the departing President his huge severance package.Ã¿ We were, however, unsuccessful in convincing then-Board of Trustees Chair Ed Carr, or the rest of the Board, to give students and faculty a real voice on the Board and follow the tradition of many great universities in this country.Ã¿ Indeed, the Board never even gave us a hearing on the issue and never voted on the proposal.
I am heartened to again see, some 16 years after our attempt, students and faculty organizing and mobilizing to get what they so rightfully deserve—voting seats on the Board.Ã¿ During our time, Board members, most of whom had little connection to AU, save the money they donated, made the shortsighted decision to deny us our voice on the Board. Ã¿
I failed to see then and fail to see now how a few seats on the Board for students and faculty would be a threat to the Board.Ã¿ I can only surmise that, during our time, Board members did not wish to hear the voices of the students and faculty in their chamber.Ã¿ No dissent was allowed or tolerated.
The Board, then, made a horrible mistake in denying the students and faculty voting seats on the Board.Ã¿ Look where it has gotten AU.Ã¿ Yet another horrible and disgraceful scandal involving the University President the effects of which were compounded by a Board that apparently attempted to squelch the investigation into apparent embezzlement by the university President. Ã¿ I am certain that had students and faculty been voting members of the Board, it would not have taken the resignation of the Board Chair to embarass the Board into confronting the outright thievery that seems to have occured. Ã¿
I hope that the current Board members put the long-term interests of the entire university community first and make the reform that most needs to be made:Ã¿ giving students and faculty members at least a few voting seats on the Board—not a majority or a controlling number of seats, but enough for their voices to be heard.Ã¿ What possible harm could a policy of inclusion have on the university?Ã¿ The only thing that the university and the Board have to lose is the current cloud of scandal and shame that hangs over the university.Ã¿ I call upon the Board to finally do the right thing and bring AU into line with the many prestigious universities around the country that have students and faculty as voting members of the Board.
SPA, Class of 1992
Former Speaker, General Assembly
This past Monday’s Board of Trustees meeting, at which the decision to depose Dr. Ladner was reached, marks the culmination of a prolonged and embarrassing university probe.Ã¿ Though Dr. Ladner’s misconduct ultimately led to his removal as president, his personal mistakes will not define the future of this institution.Ã¿ In recent years, we have grown not only as an enterprise of higher learning, but as a community.Ã¿ And in the shadow of this unfortunate series of events, a true sense of unity among the student body has emerged.Ã¿ So instead of dwelling on the events surrounding Dr. Ladner’s premature exit, we should work to realize our shortcomings as a university, to rescind the weaker procedures that continue to halt transparency and effective communication between the students and university officials, and finally, to renew our message and values that are the foundations of the American University philosophy “Ideas into Action and Action into Service.”Ã¿
In the wake of this now-concluded investigation, I urge you to develop your ideas about what can be done and send them in an e-mail to the Board of Trustees.Ã¿ I encourage you to contact your representative in the General Assembly or a representative of the Student Government and work to turn your ideas into actions that can influence present guidelines.Ã¿ And I hope that you will take the fusion of your ideas and actions and transform it into a service that will benefit the future of AU. Ã¿
In considering Ladner’s actions, please understand that the mistakes our former president made do not in any way reflect the sentiments or practices of other university officials.Ã¿ These people have tirelessly worked over the past months to protect the privacy and well-being of students and campus life.Ã¿ At the forefront of this effort was and continues to be Dr. Neil Kerwin, whose efforts to communicate with the student body during this difficult time have exceeded expectations.Ã¿ Ã¿ Ã¿
Finally, this situation can no longer be characterized as an inquiry, an investigation, or a scandal.Ã¿ It now is a change.Ã¿ A change in leadership, in the policies and procedures that govern this institution, and a change that will only propel us forward.Ã¿ Change is inevitable.Ã¿ And we, as a community, will welcome this inevitability. Ã¿
Thank you for being respectful and patient during this ordeal.Ã¿ And remember, as Einstein said, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”Ã¿ We have been given an opportunity to better this university: let’s take it.
Director, Kennedy Political Union
American University will be spending several thousands of dollars to search across this country for a new president.Ã¿ Words like “dynamic leadership,” “Huge fundraiser,” “Multi-talented” or even “Visionary” will be used to attract this person.Ã¿ Meetings with the staff, faculty, students, alumni, trustees will occur to see if this person is right for the job.
The answer to American University’s absence of a president is currently sitting in the Presidents’ office as we speak.Ã¿ The board of trustees should save the time and give the appointment directly to Dr. Neil Kerwin.Ã¿ He is the right person for the job.Ã¿
What American University needs at this time is a person of steadfast morals, an appreciation of the unique culture of American University, a solid researcher, andÃ¿ a person who knows something about administration.Ã¿ Neil Kerwin fits all of those categories.Ã¿
Dr. Kerwin’s is a “nice guy.”Ã¿ There is no other way to describe him.Ã¿ He has a smile that warms a room, he is concesioust, caring, and he radiates a sense of trustworthiness that very few people have in this world. Ã¿
Dr. Kerwin also has a deep appreciation for American University having worked both sides of the house.Ã¿ Starting out as a student in the 70’s he was able to experience first hand the students’ commitment to service, lessons that he kept throughout graduate school, and one he used when he became a professor here.Ã¿ He worked his way up from an assistant professor of Public Administration to being the Chief Operating Officer of American University.Ã¿ During his time he has been able to be immersed into the AU values of service, ideas, and making sure that those words are actions!
Dr. Kerwin’s expertise is also what this university needs.Ã¿ Who better to guide the University as it re-examines its rules and procedures than the world’s foremost expert on rule making?Ã¿ Kerwin’s public administration background makes him uniquely suited to help guides AU to the future.
Finally, Kerwin is a role model for all of us at this University.Ã¿ Too often senior administrators stop publishing.Ã¿ They have been tenured, promoted, they will never have to go on the job market again.Ã¿ This is evidenced by several University Presidents who have not had an academic publication in this century, of note: Karen Hitchcock, Larry Summers, and even Dr. Ladner.Ã¿ Dr. Kerwin has published consistently and at a quality level that any professor could be justly proud. Let us save money, time, resources and bring an exceptional person to the office of the President by having Dr. Kerwin continue to be our leader.Ã¿
Peter W. Brusoe
PhD Candidate, SPA
I arrived at American University in January 2004. I was so excited to be back in school again, especially to study politics in Washington during an election year. I moved into a small basement apartment right next door to the opulent residence of the President of American University. While I’ve only seen Ben Ladner about ten times in the time I’ve been here, each day I saw the effort that the dedicated AU staff put into tending his gardens and manicuring his beautiful lawn. I guess that must have been part of the contract. I’ve called the residence “Ben Ladner’s Clubhouse” over the past year because he used it to entertain but he didn’t seem to live there.
As part of my graduate program, I have sat through some interesting lectures on ethics during the Campaign Management and Public Affairs and Advocacy Institutes. It is clear to me that the accomplished faculty at AU is committed to this important part of the curriculum. In light of this commitment, I find it somewhat ironic that the best lesson regarding ethical issues over the past year and a half has come from this whole spectacle regarding Mr. Ladner’s highly subsidized lifestyle.
The American University community is going to move past this controversy. I think we all hope for a speedy resolution to this matter. If Mr. Ladner and his attorneys are willing to drag the University through the mud for a golden parachute, then his real motivations will be clear for all to see. For all of Mr. Ladner’s supporters who have been claiming that “Ben Ladner built this University.” I’d like to respond by asking “Who did he build it for?”
Graduate Student, SPA