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Rest in peace, John Silber

John Silber. BU president 1971-1996. Highest paid university president in the nation, doubled Harvard’s. Determined, ambitious, hopeful. Attracted and recruited Nobel Laureates Elie Wiesel, Derek Walcott, Saul Bellow and US Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky. Endowment from $18 million to $430 million. Balanced budget. Created BU’s innovative partnership with Chelsea public schools. Founded BU Academy. Tripled BU’s property holdings. Tsai Performance Center, Huntington Theatre, Photonics Center, Metcalf Center for Science, SMG building. Family man. Loyal, dependable, committed. Socratic, academic, forever on quest for knowledge. Honest, assertive, uncensored. Author Tom Wolfe said of him: “There aren’t many left who say what they mean, and mean what they say.” Controversial, controversial, controversial. Creator of BU’s super strict guest policies, lasted until 2007. Chief architect of MCAS exams. Unyielding, outspoken, opinionated. Often called an academic bully. “Grate on their sensitivity? I want to grate on their minds,” he said of his teacher methodology. “What you call provocative, I call educative.” Short-tempered. Blunt, testy, irritable. Love him or hate him, John Silber arguably–or undoubtedly–did more for BU than any other figure. He laid the foundation for BU’s growth and is probably a reason why BU’s students rank #3 for happiest in the nation today. May he rest in peace and may his legacy continue. (But whatever you do, just remember that PSY, of “Gangnam Style” fame, went to BU a year *after* Silber’s presidency.)

- Nathan Chow
Boston University, Class of 2009

Nathan Chow is a graduate of Boston University's College of Communication. He runs a middle school program at a community center in Boston. In his free time, he writes for his motivational blog http://lifetruthordare.com (also on Facebook) and takes photos for his freelance service http://nchowphoto.com (also on Facebook). He loves to read, write, dine out, eat ethnic food, run, salsa dance, play soccer, juggle, and meet new people---but not all at the same time.

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