John Silber, seen here in November 1995, served as Boston University president for a quarter century, from 1971 to 1996. A conservative Democrat, he narrowly lost a bid for the governorship of Massachusetts in 1990. Mr. Silber died Thursday at age 86. (Associated Press)

John Silber, seen here in November 1995, served as Boston University president for a quarter century, from 1971 to 1996. A conservative Democrat, he narrowly lost a bid for the governorship of Massachusetts in 1990. Mr. Silber died Thursday at age 86. (Associated Press)