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Former BU Administrator Remembers The Silber Public Didn’t See

BOSTON — John Silber, who for decades was synonymous with Boston University, died Thursday at age 86.

He had been undergoing treatment for kidney failure, and in recent days he’d invited many friends to his bedside to say goodbye.

One of them was Joe Mercurio, a longtime BU administrator who had worked with him since shortly after Silber became president of the school in 1971.

Silber was a fiery, controversial man. But when we spoke with Mercurio Thursday, he talked of a John Silber the public didn’t see: someone who gave his staff room to grow, believed in second chances, and reached into his pocket to help people who were struggling financially.

But Mercurio said Silber’s ultimate legacy in Boston was how he transformed BU physically and reputationally.

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