Boston University

John Silber died Thursday morning of kidney failure at the age of 86. He worked at the University from 1957 to 1970 before Frank Erwin fired him because he opposed Erwin’s plan to reorganize the College of Arts and Sciences.

Silber started as a professor in 1957, became the chair of the philosophy department in 1962 and then served as the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences beginning in 1967. Silber became the president of Boston University after Frank Erwin fired him. There, BU professor James Post said Silber was committed to improving the quality of education BU offered. Silber served as BU’s president from 1971 to 1996 and as chancellor from 1996 to 2003.

“He was a transformative leader,” Post said. “Some of the teaching I do is around leadership in institutions, and we use the phrase a lot this day about being a transformative leader. John Silber was a transformative leader before there was a term for it.”

At BU, Post said Silber recruited top-notch faculty members to improve the quality of education. Silber was given the job to fix what, Post said, was at the time a “broken institution.” He replaced the heads of many departments, which made him a source of controversy again. In his first few years at BU, faculty members tried to get Silber fired, but he remained at BU until 2003. On Thursday, BU dedicated the top of its website’s home page to Silber.

At UT, Erwin fired Silber because he opposed Erwin’s plan to reorganize the College of Arts and Sciences by dividing it into four parts.

According to The Daily Texan archives, Erwin said to Silber July 24, 1970: “John, you are very intelligent, articulate and hardworking. Because of these qualities, you make some people in higher education nervous. That is why you must be resigned or removed.”

Silber refused to resign and was fired. The Texan went on to draft a petition in support of Silber, but he was never reinstated.

Post said he met Silber upon being hired as a new faculty member in the ‘70s, and his impressions of Silber changed over time.

“At the beginning, I didn’t have any direct contact with him, so I only observed him at a distance. He seemed very brash and very autocratic,” Post said. “Over time I got to understand he was a very dedicated educator and very determined to improve the quality of the university and the quality of education in general.”

Post said Silber came to terms with his firing from UT easily and long ago.

“He thought his firing was the price of being direct and being forthright,” Post said. “He did say at one time he could have been more politically correct, but that was not his nature and it would not have served the institution very well.”

Post said even at BU, Silber was outspoken and not afraid to be an agent of change.

Douglas Sears, BU’s vice president and chief of staff for the president, said in a press statement that he respected Silber’s work ethic and sense of humor.

Silber retired in 2003 from his position as BU chancellor but continued to live on campus and remained a part of the university.

Silber is survived by his daughters, Rachel Devlin, Martha Hathaway, Judith Ballan, Alexandra Silber, Ruth Belmonte and Caroline Lavender; his son, Charles Hiett; his brother, Paul Silber; 26 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Printed on Friday, September 28, 2012 as: Former BU president dies, leaving history of controversy

In their continuing quest to define themselves as a unit, the Longhorns may have done just that on Sunday against Boston University.

The Longhorns runned-and-gunned their way to a 92-46 victory over the Terriers, behind Chassidy Fussell’s 20 points and Kathleen Nash’s 20 rebounds. Ashley Gayle added 16 rebounds of her own.

“This was a great game for us because [the Boston University Terriers] are very strong and physical,” said head coach Gail Goestenkors. “We had to work for everything we got and it wasn’t easy. Kat [Nash] and AG [Gayle] were monsters on the board and they ignited our transition game.”

The “transition game” was especially important for Texas. The Longhorns were able to push the ball at the fast pace they like due to the 25 turnovers they forced against the Terriers, and they netted 35 points off the turnovers and 25 fast-break points.

“Once we lost Cokie [Reed] we changed who we were going to be,” Goestenkors said. “We focused on pushing the ball and pushing the tempo and we were going to score a lot of points and do it in transition. Last game I said, ‘Okay I think our goal needs to be to score 100 points every game.’ Whether we do or we don’t that needs to be our mindset.”

The Longhorns tried to keep the ball moving with finesse, but they didn’t give up on being physical.

Though it is not an official statistic, Fussell led the Longhorns in time spent on the ground. On both the defensive and offensive sides of the ball, Fussell could be seen hitting the deck for loose balls, taking charges and getting fouled. Her hustle paid dividends giving her four steals, one block and eight rebounds in addition to her 20 points.

“I just felt like they’re going to come at me, so I’m going to come at them,” Fussell said. “That’s my mindset when I play. I’ve got to be fearless.”

The final score may be a bit misleading considering how close the game was in the much of the first half. Texas trailed for the first time this season 11-9 at one point, but after regaining the lead, they never looked back.

With their 92-point performance the Longhorns have scored over 90 points in each of the first three games, a feat they haven’t accomplished since 1992. Nash’s 20 rebounds were the most by a Longhorn since 2005.

Their victory let Texas fans know that when they fatigue their opponents with their mobility, Texas is virtually unstoppable. It is a style they are trying to perfect as they prepare to take on Stanford, Michigan State, Tennessee and the tough Big 12 in the coming weeks.

But for now, Goestenkors and her team are celebrating a commanding win over a team she said was the best they’ve faced so far.

“We made them [Boston University] look bad,” she said.