As the Washington Post announced, there was a town hall meeting with members of the Board of Trustees tonight. Not the entire Board, but a subset attended, in advance of the full Board meeting tomorrow.
John, Alex, Jaisen, and I went after class tonight to speak out about the governance situation. Firstly, I’m glad that the Board (or at least some of the members) wants to open dialogue, even if it’s late and even if it’s under pressure. It takes courage to stand up in front of a ‘hot’ room and field questions.
I was moved by the passion of the speakers, especially the former tennis team member. He spoke about how, when the tennis team’s $120,000 budget was cut last year, he was told by the administration that it was due to financial constraints [Ben Ladner admitted to improperly spending in excess of $120,000 himself. -Ed.], but the Board of Trustees was able, this year, to spend $3.75 million to sever ties with Dr. Ladner. He went on to point out that not a single trustee was at the town hall meeting held at the time of the athletics cuts.
When I spoke, I focused on the lack of communication up to this point, noting that every previous communication has come only after pressure from students, faculty, the press, or the Senate Finance Committee. With that lack of communication, the Board’s commitment to self-assessing their governance structure is unlikely to be sufficient. It’s a baby step, but we expect more.
Thanks go out to everyone who attended and everyone who has not given up on bringing this matter to a full accounting. As long as we keep on fighting, we’ll keep on making progress.
UPDATE: WAMU did a Metro Connection story on the Board of Trustees. I’m the one at the beginning saying that “this Board has lost the confidence of every important constituency at AU.”