BOSTON - John Silber, 86, the sharp-tongued, pugnacious public intellectual who transformed Boston University during a quarter-century as president, died Thursday at his Brookline home, university spokesman Colin Riley said.
Dr. Silber had been suffering from liver ailments recently, Riley said.
Dr. Silber took over BU, then a financially troubled commuter school of middling reputation, in 1971 and used his forceful - some said imperious - personality to remake it into a prominent national university.
Erudite and combative, he was an outspoken critic of political correctness, communism, and popular culture, but considered himself a liberal on many issues. He was the Democratic nominee for governor of Massachusetts in 1990, but was narrowly defeated by Republican William Weld - a loss many blamed on a television interview shortly before the election during which he snapped at a reporter who asked him about his weaknesses. He remained president until 1996, and was university chancellor from 1996 until 2003.