Boston Former NASA chief Daniel S. Goldin backed out as the next president of Boston University on Friday, just a day before he was supposed to take office, after clashing with BU's iron-fisted chancellor John Silber over who would really be in charge.
Goldin's abrupt departure put an end to what was supposed to be a new era for the nation's fourth-largest private university, dominated by the famously blunt and abrasive Silber for more than 30 years.
Goldin resigned and reached an undisclosed severance agreement with the board of trustees, who named an interim president and launched another search for a replacement.
"It's fair to say there was a conclusion that Mr. Goldin would not be the right person to serve as president of BU, and Mr. Goldin concluded it would not be in his interest to do so," said Robert Popeo, a lawyer for the trustees.
For his part, Silber, 77, resigned as chancellor and a trustee. He will play no role in the governing of the 30,000-student university, BU spokesman Kevin Carleton said.
Goldin, reached at his Washington home, declined to comment. His contract had been worth a reported $750,000 per year, plus benefits.
Popeo said the board decided against Goldin because of "a whole host of issues, including style, the kind of person that was necessary to lead this university, temperament and other issues that both parties reflected on."
The apparent power struggle pitted two strong personalities against each other: Silber, backed by his loyalists, and the former NASA administrator, with his own reputation for being prickly and dictatorial.