Goldin Eschews Boston U. Post

By Jonathan Finer
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 1, 2003

BOSTON, Oct. 31 -- Daniel S. Goldin, the former head of NASA who was just a day from becoming president of Boston University, resigned Friday amid reports of souring relations with the school's trustees and its outgoing chancellor, John R. Silber.

The announcement ended a tumultuous week that began Oct. 24, when an executive committee of the board of trustees agreed to reconsider the offer to Goldin. Days later, in a letter to the board, Goldin asserted his intention and right to assume the president's office this weekend.

But the board announced Friday that the two sides had agreed to sever ties, five months after Goldin was unanimously selected as the university's ninth president.

"On reflection, I suspect, the board felt that Mr. Goldin might not be a good fit. Mr. Goldin came to the same conclusion," Dexter Dodge, the board's vice chairman, said at a news conference after a trustees meeting.

University officials said they reached a financial settlement with Goldin that terminated his contract, reportedly worth $750,000 per year, plus other perquisites. The settlement was widely reported as $1.8 million.

The university and Goldin issued a terse statement saying the two parties had "resolved their differences, have terminated their contract and have mutually decided to part company," adding that "neither party will discuss this matter further."

Hailed as "a visionary" by trustees when he was chosen in July to lead the nation's fourth-largest private university with 30,000 students, Goldin did not return a phone call to his Washington home Friday afternoon. His attorney, Robert Barnett, said Goldin was pleased that the situation was resolved "amicably" and that "you sometimes have situations where it is just better to part company."

Goldin's nearly 10-year tenure as NASA's longest-serving administrator ended in 2001. After the space shuttle Columbia disaster, which occurred more than a year after Goldin left, critics said that his approach -- "faster, better, cheaper" -- may have compromised safety, a charge NASA officials denied.

Aram V. Chobanian, dean of Boston University's medical school, was named interim president. A spokesman said that Chobanian, a cardiologist who has been an administrator at the school for 15 years, will not be available for comment until next week.

Several faculty members said that Goldin lost the support of the trustees in a power struggle with Silber, who has led the university since 1971, as either president, chancellor or both and who also announced his resignation Friday. Goldin made Silber's departure as chancellor and as a board member a condition of his acceptance of the president's post, a request the board and Silber initially supported.

Goldin was said to have been selected by Silber, and the two appeared on campus together at the opening of the school year. A university-wide holiday to welcome Goldin was slated for mid-November. In an interview with the Daily Free Press, a campus newspaper, less than two weeks ago, Silber said, "I think it should go very well under Dan."

But Silber, by many accounts an imperious leader who lost a bid for governor of Massachusetts in 1990, reportedly changed his mind about leaving the board. Subsequent discussions between Goldin and the trustees, many of whom are loyal to Silber, prompted concern about the incoming president's "temperament and other issues," said R. Robert Popeo, a lawyer for the university.

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