Wednesday, March 23, 2011
One of the more curious cause celebres for MIT's small but vocal coterie of Ayn Rand worshipers was John Silber, who became president of Boston University in the '70s and later ran for governor of Massachusetts in 1990 - and lost. His defeat brought in Massachusetts' first Republican governor since the Cabots had stopped talking to the Lodges, or at least since the days of Richard Nixon. The reason Silber was such a favorite of the pointy-headed purveyors of ego(t)ism was that he was seen as the Rugged Individual determined to bring Academic Excellence to his campus, even if it meant running roughshod over his faculty, which had exhibited the audacity to actually form a union and demand its collective bargaining rights. Excellence, in Silber's case, meant pocketing a nice little retirement package worth about $6 million, which he did in 2006, after having paid himself $800,000 a year, a salary that would normally only be permitted to the football coach at the University of Texas (in the humble opinion of those who preach Libertarian thought and Selfishness as a Virtue, nothing connotes Academic Excellence like having a university president who gets paid huge gobs of money while pleading poverty for his school).
Because his exploits made him a hero to the Ergomaniacs, I felt compelled to knock John Silber down a peg. The voters of Massachusetts would not get that privilege until 14 years later.