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Weeklong drama leaves students feeling chagrined

After a week of rolling crisis over the presidency of Boston University, students and faculty lashed out yesterday at what they saw as an embarrassing leadership gap at the school's top level.

"We have become sort of a laughingstock university," said Steven Rodriguez, 20, a junior in the College of Communication, after BU trustees withdrew their job offer to incoming president Daniel S. Goldin. "We can't even decide on a president, and when we do choose one, he's kicked out before he even starts. It's a joke to us, and we are becoming a joke to other institutions."

By the time BU's Board of Trustees met yesterday morning, what appeared to be more than 3,000 BU students, faculty, alumni, and parents had signed an online petition that called on the university to install Goldin as president today, on what was slated to be his first day in the office.

A paper copy of the petition, drafted by the Faculty Committee for the Future of Boston University, a group formed less than a week ago, was delivered to the Board of Trustees just hours before it unanimously agreed to revoke the offer to Goldin, the former head of NASA.

After delivering the document, professor James Iffland, who helped spearhead the petition effort, spoke outside the building where the trustees were meeting. "This place is looking more and more like a circus," Iffland said. "Even [board member Kenneth] Feld, the owner of Ringling Bros. Circus, has decided to leave the premises. If you have a circus owner running away then things have to be really bad."

Feld and Jeffrey Katzenberg, a cofounder of the Hollywood studio DreamWorks SKG, resigned last week as trustees.

Laura Hirshfield, a junior English education major, said the controversy would have an adverse effect on the school. "It's time for a change, but this, this is embarrassing and frustrating."

Hirshfield said she wants to see a president who will work closely with the student body.

A number of students expressed criticism of John Silber, the university's president emeritus, saying they felt he played an important role in Goldin's ouster.

"Goldin should have been given a chance," said Allison Gergley, 18, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. "I definitely think Silber should give up and realize that he is no longer in power."

Brendan McCarthy can be reached at

Daniel S. Goldin Daniel S. Goldin
Aram Chobanian Aram Chobanian (Courtesy BU)
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