John R. Silber, whose 25-year reign atop Boston University remade the institution in ways that enthralled supporters and often enraged critics, died Thursday, the university announced. Silber came to B.U. in 1971 after a career as a philosopher and dean at the University of Texas at Austin; his deanship there ended in dismissal when he battled regents over a plan to split up the College of Arts and Sciences. At Boston, he was expansionistic and at times imperialistic, greatly strengthening the quality of the university's faculty and its financial standing while simultaneously doing battle with his many critics, who took offense at his unguarded style of speaking and his pay, unmatched by other presidents' at the time.
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