Silber vs. Everyone Else


The cold war that has raged for several years at Boston University (B.U.) between President John R. Silber and the faculty burst into open warfare this year, but Silber survived and appears to have consolidated his position.

Hostilities began in September, when a group of about 25 faculty members formed the Committee to Save B.U., which promoted as its primary goal the ousting of Silber. Then the sudent forum demanded his dismissal and 600 professors from Harvard, the Massachusetts Instiutue of Technology and other area schools signed petitions calling for his resignation. Finally, in December the faculty in a stormy meeting voted by a two-to-one margin to urge the trustees to fire Silber.

Silber's critics among the students and the faculty argue that he runs the university "more like a prison than like an institution of higher education"--for example, that he ignores their advice, punishes his critics by denying them tenure or salary increases, and mismanages the academic side of the university.

"Why should I have regrets for being as successful as I have," Silber said last fall, "in saving an institution that was on the edge of bankruptcy, threatened by mediocrity on the one hand, and by fiscal instability on the other?

"So why should I hang my head and go around regretting what's happened?" the controversial B.U. prexy said, adding, "I'm damn pleased with what's happened."