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BU professor's ouster from elite program gets Silber's back up

There has been trouble of late in the most elite bastion of scholars at Boston University. BU has a special home, the University Professors program, for the brighest-shining minds that former president John Silber attracted to the school over the years. ''UNI," as the program is known, is home to Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel and physics Nobelist Sheldon Glashow; it was also home to the late novelist Saul Bellow. (Professors have joint appointments in the departments of their fields of study.) Another member of the program is Lance Morrow, an elder statesman in the world of journalism. Morrow spent years at Time Magazine and has written a number of well regarded books, including ''Evil: an Investigation," and ''The Best Year of their Lives: Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon in 1948." But UNI's current director, literary historian Bruce Redford, has decided not to renew Morrow's contract, meaning that Morrow's only appointment after this year will be in the university's journalism department. Redford's move infuriated none other than Silber, who helped recruit Morrow to BU. Silber, himself a University Professor, said the matter should have been put to a faculty vote, and he has tried to intervene. ''I do not think that the majority of the University Professors -- the large majority of the University Professors -- will tolerate the removal of a distinguished person like Lance Morrow without any participation by the faculty. There is a severe limit to one-man rule," Silber wrote in June to provost David Campbell and then-president Aram Chobanian, also a UNI member. The two identical letters were obtained by the Globe. In an interview, Silber asked, ''Why would you get rid of somebody who's absolutely top class?" He said Morrow is more than just a journalist. ''He's written so many books that are taken seriously. Really you can regard him as a historian; you can regard him as a commentator on evil." Silber has thus far failed to sway the decision. A spokesman said last week that Chobanian and Campbell approved Redford's move. Redford would not comment, but Eugene Stanley, an eminent physicist, defended Redford, saying the director consulted with many professors. Stanley said he and three others met with Redford to talk about Morrow. ''Of the people I've spoken to, a large majority agreed" with Redford, Stanley said, declining to explain why they felt that Morrow shouldn't be part of UNI. For his part, Morrow said he doesn't know why he was ousted. He pointed out that he is publishing his third book in three years next month, a collection of essays, and said he is working on a biography of Henry Luce, whose family gave Morrow exclusive rights to the publishing pioneer's papers. ''I am a busy man, and I trust this whole thing at BU will sort itself out. If it doesn't, that's fine, too," said Morrow, who is on leave this semester. Silber, known for his exceptionally tight hold on power at BU for three decades, was aware that some would chuckle at his line about the ''limit to one-man rule." He had this to say: ''I don't believe in one-man rule. I met every week with an administrative group. Those were some pretty testy meetings, at times. They were wonderful meetings, but they certainly were not one-man rule."

MORE DRAMA AT BU: The Globe has reported about a number of allegations against BU Police Chief Robert Shea detailed in a lawsuit by former deputy chief Enrico Cappucci. Cappucci said Shea mishandled the investigation into a black graduate student's racial-profiling complaint, and also wanted to stop recording the races of suspects in order to hide evidence of racial profiling. Shea denied the allegations. Cappucci and two other former officers say they have been interviewed in recent weeks by FBI agents, who seem interested in possible civil rights violations. One agent visited the BUPD Tuesday. An FBI spokeswoman said she could not confirm or deny that there is an investigation, but said that racial profiling might be a civil matter, rather than criminal, and that a civil rights investigation would be opened only if there is a question of whether excessive force was used.

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