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President of American University

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  • President of American University

    What an incredible job. The guy spends $600k over several years, on top of his $600k+ salary, and he'll sue the university if they fire him.

    American University Chief Is Investigated Over Spending
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    Published: September 23, 2005
    WASHINGTON, Sept. 22 - In the next few weeks, the board of American University will decide the future of its longtime leader, Benjamin Ladner, who has become the latest college president to be investigated over the nature of his spending.

    Dr. Ladner, who earned $663,000 for the 2004-5 academic year, was suspended last month while investigators hired by the university began to examine recent financial records. Documents from the investigation obtained by The New York Times suggest that over the last three years he and his wife, Nancy, spent nearly $600,000 on airline tickets, hotels, limousines, food, a chef, a social secretary and household items - expenditures that were charged to American, but that lawyers for the university say have no apparent or documented business purpose.

    The spending included "professional development" trips to France, Italy and Britain for the Ladners' chef, salary and benefits of $219,000 to the chef, and more than $101,000 to a social secretary who board lawyers said was for personal services to the Ladners, not for university events.

    The spending pattern was so widespread, and included such mundane purchases by Mrs. Ladner as linens, electronics and vitamins, that the Justice Department is monitoring the inquiry. Details of the spending were reported Thursday in The Washington Post.

    Lawyers for the Ladners have responded to the charges with a blanket denial of wrongdoing and extensive explanations for each expenditure, according to documents before the investigators. The lawyers asserted that all the spending was consistent with the terms of Dr. Ladner's employment contract, signed in 1997, and with a recognition that his wife, as American's first lady, represented the university at all times.

    While Mr. Ladner's lawyers conceded that his records might include "inadvertent charges," they contended that the couple "acted in an authorized manner, within the terms of the president's employment agreement, and in the best interests of the university."

    Dr. Ladner, 63, who was hired by American in 1994, said in an interview on Thursday that he was "in total shock" after an anonymous letter reached the university last spring and suggested that officials examine the couple's spending.

    "But instead of sitting down with me," he said, "the board brought in a team of investigators, which they didn't tell me about until two months afterward."

    "I was totally caught off guard by their aggressiveness," he said of the board. "They kept me in the dark. It was a bewildering and very surprising episode."

    If the university investigation finds that Dr. Ladner violated his fiduciary responsibility to American, a private university of about 10,000 students in northwest Washington, he could lose his job.

    In recent years, about a dozen colleges and their presidents have parted ways over accusations of improper spending or financial mismanagement.

    Dr. Ladner's case is unusual in that the questions over spending also focus on the activities of his wife, as well as those of the chef assigned to the Ladners' official residence and those of the social secretary, who served as an event planner for the couple. One major point of contention in the audit is how much work the chef and social secretary did for Dr. Ladner in his capacity as president and how much they did for him personally.

    In signed declarations before investigators, both the chef, Rodney Scruggs, and the secretary, Sally Ekfelt, said they did not keep records of how much time they spent on specific duties.

    The investigation has drawn attention to a recent trend in higher education: the insistence of boards of trustees that college presidents sign employment contracts that spell out precise limits of presidential spending.

    Raymond D. Cotton, a lawyer who has negotiated more than 150 contracts between colleges and their presidents, said it was only in the 1980's that the relationships evolved from a handshake to a one-page document that focused on a president's salary, residence and car.

    Now, Mr. Cotton said, with new federal laws that govern executive compensation, most college and university presidents sign lengthy contracts that clarify precisely what leeway are allowed in spending and entertainment.

    From documents under examination in Dr. Ladner's case, it appears that he and his wife had assumed they had wide latitude in charging many of their purchases to the university.

    A review of the Ladners' credit card expenditures for the presidential residence shows that from 2002 to 2004, they spent $81,662 for food; $67,877 for car services, fuel and repairs; $37,408 for wine and liquor; and $13,987 for travel. Board lawyers say the expenditures had no apparent business purpose.

    The papers submitted to investigators on the couple's behalf argue that the estimates for time and money are inaccurate, that the allegations do not take into account the breadth of Mrs. Ladner's duties as first lady, and that the travel expenses were reasonable and legitimate and should be borne by the university.

    Dr. Ladner said that if he were dismissed by the university, he would consider legal action. "But I hope it doesn't come to that," he said. "I hope things can settle down, we can work things out, and cooler heads prevail."[/b][/quote]
    No president wants war. Everything you may have heard is that, but it's just simply not true
    President George W. Bush, March 21, 2006

    I'm a war president
    President George W. Bush, February 8, 2004

  • #2

    That's my sister's alma mater.
    The noise was good, but I thought they phoned in a lot of the funk.

    Co-Sponsor of Yadi Molina, possessor of the best waxed eyebrows in the league.

    Sponsor of steveInebriated and fetcher of cold beer.


    • #3
      QUOTE(gibsongirl @ Sep 23 2005, 07:45 PM) Quoted post


      That's my sister's alma mater.

      Isn't it good to know that part of her tuition went to such good use?