Ben Ladner’s education began in the public schools of Mobile, AL, after which he attended Baylor University on a basketball scholarship. He graduated in 1959 with a B.A. degree. Following his interests in philosophy and religion, he graduated from Southern Seminary in Kentucky in 1963 and moved to Durham, NC to attend Duke University for graduate studies. His dissertation was an in-depth exploration of the poetry and epistemology of the poet/thinker Elizabeth Sewell. He received his Ph.D. in 1970.
He taught philosophy and religion at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro for more than a decade before moving to the presidency of the National Faculty of Humanities, Arts and Sciences in 1980. This prestigious organization, founded by Phi Beta Kappa and several other leading academic agencies, worked in every state and at every level of education.
In 1994, Ladner became president of American University, which was beset by countless problems from presidential leadership to funding, from enrollments to accreditation. By the time of his departure in 2005, the school had become an international leader in global education and Ladner’s administration had engineered historic records in every area throughout the university, including academic quality, national educational rankings, athletic championships, fundraising, endowment growth, enrollment numbers and quality, campus renovation, diversity of students and faculty, and alumni support.