"So, Professor Ladner, What's the Meaning of Life?"

Monday, October 03, 2005

"So, Professor Ladner, What's the Meaning of Life?"

Apparently to live well. To live extremely well.

First, for those of you who live outside of Washington, D.C., some quick background. Just recently, trustees at American University (AU), one of the metro area's most prominent universities, launched an investigation into the controversial personal and travel expenses of its president, Benjamin Ladner.

Y'know when you're reading an article and you're suddenly thrown a curve -- something you didn't expect. Well, see if this strikes you the same way it struck me. From Sunday's Washington Post:
Ladner was suspended in August during an investigation of his personal and travel expenses launched by the Board of Trustees. An independent report, disputed by Ladner, has questioned more than $500,000 in spending.

... By the terms of his 1997 contract, Ladner could step down with a one-year leave with full salary and benefits if he were terminated, plus compensation equal to his base salary, payable monthly or at the end of 30 days -- his choice.

It also provides for $50,000 for relocation, as well as a tenured professorship that is always 20 percent higher than the next-highest faculty salary. Ladner teaches religion and philosophy.
Something tells me that Ladner did not do his doctoral thesis on self-denial.

The picture that's emerging is quite vulgar. AU's Benjamin Ladner:

* earns an $800,000 salary
* got AU to pay for "professional development" trips that sent he and his wife's personal chef to Paris, London and Rome
* secured remibursement, according to the Post, for "first-class tickets for overseas trips, a waterfall for the back yard of the president's house and chauffeurs spending much of their time running errands for his wife to jewelers, salons and dry cleaners"

I guess this helps to explain the $41,000 per student that AU charges for annual tuition and fees.

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