John Silber, 1926–2012

The New Criterion mourns the loss of John R. Silber, a great academic, valued writer, and dear friend. He passed away early this morning.

Born in Texas, Silber studied fine arts and philosophy at Trinity University, graduating with honors. He went on to earn his Ph.D. in philosophy from Yale and teach at several institutions, including Yale, the University of Texas at Austin, and Bonn University.

He was hired as the president of Boston University in 1971 and served for twenty-five years, becoming its chancellor in 1996. During his time at BU, Silber was a influential, outspoken, and controversial leader who reinvented the faltering school. Forty years and several protests later, BU is one of the most powerful research universities in the nation.

In addition to his integral role in reshaping Boston University, Silber ran for Governor of Massachusetts and wrote two books, Straight Shooting: What’s wrong with America and how to fix it and Architecture of the Absurd: How “genius” disfigured a practical art.

The New Criterion was fortunate enough to publish several essays by Silber, which are available below:

"Science versus scientism" (November 2005)
"Procedure or dogma: the core of liberalism" (May 1999)
"Obedience to the unenforceable" (June 1995)
"Acne on the Left, lepers on the Right" (November 1992)

We will have further coverage in a forthcoming issue of the magazine.

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