By Sadie Roosa
Former Boston University president and gubernatorial candidate for Massachusetts, John Silber, died today of kidney failure at the age of 86. Serving as president of BU for a quarter century, Silber was an important figure in Boston’s history, and he continued to be active in the Massachusetts political and education arena after stepping down as president.
The Boston Local TV News collections cover the span of his entire career, and highlight many of the important stages of impact on the Boston community.
The WHDH collection has the beginning of his career in Boston with Silber’s inauguration as President of BU in 1971. It also contains several addresses he made early in his tenure, including one on American Universities.
The WCVB collection contains a lot of his career at BU, including coverage of the faculty and clerical worker strike that epitomized the tension that existed between Silber and the BU faculty and staff throughout the 70s. There is also footage of him discussing student loan policy and Affirmative Action.
The WGBH Ten O’Clock News collection overlaps with the WCVB collection and contains some coverage of Silber’s career at BU, including him giving an honorary degree to Zulu chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi and BU taking over management of the Chelsea public school system. The Ten O’Clock News also covers Silber’s career outside of his role as president a university. The collection has his views on bilingual education, a discussion/argument with Noam Chomsky on Contra aid, and coverage of his gubernatorial race in 1990 against William Weld, which includes a Ten O’Clock News Special profiling him as the democratic candidate. There is also a retrospective piece in the collection, containing photographs of Silber in his youth, at his wedding, at college, and with his family. Some of the Ten O’Clock News footage of Silber has already been digitized and is available on Open Vault.
John Silber had a large impact on the local Boston community, and our Boston Local News Digital Library is one way that impact will be recorded, preserved, and remembered. The catalog will be online soon to research these stories on his life and career.