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BU faculty seeks more representation on board

Boston University faculty leaders asked trustees and the school's interim president yesterday to add four faculty representatives as voting members of the governing board, a reform they want in response to the leadership crisis that led to incoming president Daniel S. Goldin getting a $1.8 million severance package before he was to start work.

The four trustees who met with the board for an hour made no specific promises, saying only that they would be examining a host of changes through their new ad hoc committee on governance, announced Friday.

"I think it went well. They didn't say no," said Herbert Voigt, chairman of the faculty council, who along with two other members of the elected panel met with trustees Dexter Dodge, Melvin Miller, Elaine Kirshenbaum, and James Howell.

It would be unusual for a university board of trustees to include voting faculty members, but many have a faculty liaison, another possibility discussed last night.

Interim president Aram Chobanian and provost Dennis Berkey, who also attended the meeting held in Berkey's office, offered to act as liaisons between the faculty council and trustees, following last week's hastily arranged buyout of the incoming president. Although faculty leaders were used to working through Silber to reach trustees in the past, it was not immediately clear last night why the faculty council needs Chobanian and Berkey as conduits to trustees.

"Right now, that's the best we can hope for," Voigt said last night.

Faculty members did not ask the trustees to remove several board members who were part of the search that selected Goldin, as some had considered doing. A faculty source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Globe over the weekend that the board should replace Miller and Earle Cooley, both on the search committee, and Gerald Cassidy, a friend of Goldin's who championed his candidacy.

The trustees also told faculty not to expect more details on why they revoked Goldin's job offer.

"Dexter did a pretty good job of saying, there's lots of things we could say, but we've told you what we can, because we are bound by a confidentiality agreement [with Goldin]," said BU spokeswoman Nancy Sterling.

The group also discussed "the need to get an understanding of why the search process failed before we have another one," Voigt said.

Dodge has already consulted with a specialist on nonprofit governance, whom BU might hire as a consultant, he said over the weekend. He added that the ad hoc committee would be formed within two weeks.

Meanwhile, Boston Magazine reported on its website yesterday that John Silber, who officially stepped down as chancellor on Friday, was in line to get $1.3 million for unused sabbaticals over his 32 years at BU, based on a copy of Silber's contract the magazine obtained in 1997.

Silber has been due the $1.3 million since 1988, according to Globe reports, and it is unclear if Silber's sabbatical pay might be even higher thanks to other unused leaves accrued since then.

Marcella Bombardieri can be reached at

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