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An 11th-hour turmoil hits Boston University

Just one day before he was to take over as the trustees' unanimous choice to lead the nation's fourth-largest private university, Daniel S. Goldin, the former NASA administrator, agreed to walk away from the presidency of Boston University for a reported payment of $1.8-million.

Boston University, whose officials had hailed Goldin as a visionary leader, and Goldin, who had invited the entire faculty to his inauguration on Nov. 17, "terminated their contract and have mutually decided to part company," according to a statement released by Goldin and the university.

It was the culmination of a week of drama riveting not only Boston, the nation's capital of higher education, but all of academia, as suspense built over the presidency of Boston University: Would Goldin, known as a fierce infighter, hold onto the job, even after a group of trustees had given him a last-minute vote of no confidence?

And what was the role of John Silber, the chancellor and former president, who has run Boston University with an iron fist for more than three decades?

Exactly what caused Goldin's candidacy to implode remains in dispute. Some said that in recent weeks, as he began laying out his plans, the board saw the volatile side of his temperament, the New York Times reported. Others focus on Silber's reluctance to relinquish authority, and the wishes of some trustees to protect business relationships with the university.