Boston University President Announces Resignation Westling Will Join BU Faculty

Contact: Kevin Carleton, 617/353-2240 |

Boston, MA — President Jon Westling announced his resignation today as Boston University’s eighth president, citing his desire to return to the classroom and the need for a president who can make a long-term commitment to implement the University’s strategic plan. The resignation is effective immediately, although President Westling will assist in the transition period. President Westling will take a one-year sabbatical before returning to Boston University as a professor.

In his resignation letter, he wrote, “it has long been my hope to again spend a portion of my career in the classroom and in the library. That was why I entered academic life in the first place, and it is what I had intended to do when I – temporarily, as I then thought – joined Boston University’s administrative staff 28 years ago.”

Richard DeWolfe, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Boston University, stated, “We have accepted Jon’s resignation with regret. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I would like to express our gratitude for Jon’s extraordinary service to Boston University.” He continued, “As President Westling prepares to leave his position, the University’s financial position is strong, our researchers are first-rank, our students are better prepared, and the University’s commitment to the community is unwavering. This year the University will bring in more than $90 million in philanthropic support – almost tripling the amount we raised at the time of Jon’s appointment in 1996. Research grants and contracts will exceed $250 million this year, up nearly 70% from 1996. Our student applicant pool is up more than 15% and this fall’s entering class will have an average combined SAT score of 1280 – 45 points higher than when President Westling was appointed.”

President Westling has had many notable achievements over the course of his tenure. He has attracted record levels of gifts and balanced the budget in each of his six years as President. He has spearheaded the development of BioSquare, a $700 million research and business park designed to facilitate collaboration between BU and the biomedical industry, and has overseen the creation of Boston Medical Center. Under his guidance, Boston University has become an international center of scientific research, with sponsored research funding exceeding $250 million. Under President Westling, the University has embarked on the development of the Student Village, its largest building project in 50 years, which will greatly enhance student life and the sense of community on campus. He has continued BU’s great tradition of service to the community, as witnessed by its continued commitment to the Chelsea and Boston public schools.

President Westling, in announcing his decision, stated, “This has been a difficult decision, but one that affords me the opportunity to return to my first love. I also believe the timing is right for the University. With the strong leadership and clear vision of the Board of Trustees, with the depth and strength of my colleagues in administration, and with the dedication and energy of our outstanding faculty, I have great confidence in Boston University’s future.”

President Westling concluded, “I have been deeply honored to serve as president of Boston University. I want to thank the many students, faculty, administrators, and alumni who have given me their experience, talents, and energy in helping to build upon this institution’s exceptional intellectual legacy. I look forward to continuing to contribute to the building of Boston University as a member of its faculty, and in any other way I can be of service.”

Mr. Westling was named President of Boston University on June 1, 1996. Prior to that, he had had been chosen as President-elect in January 1995, and had served as Provost and Executive Vice President from 1991-1995. He served as Executive Vice President from 1988-1991 and as Provost from 1984-1988. Mr. Westling was also named Acting President during President Silber’s sabbatical in 1987 and served as President ad interim while Dr. Silber was on leave in 1990.

Chairman DeWolfe also announced that the Trustees would name a committee to undertake an extensive search for President Westling’s replacement. In the interim, at the request of the Board of Trustees, Chancellor John Silber will preside with the authority of the president. Silber served as Boston University’s president from 1971-1996.

Chancellor Silber stated, “Jon Westling has served Boston University brilliantly in a variety of demanding assignments and for ten years as provost before he assumed the presidency following my resignation. His accomplishments as President are apparent in the continuing improvement in the quality of students; in the development of the physical plant, and especially the launching of the Student Village; in setting new records each year in the research grants won by faculty through peer review; and in setting new records each year in fundraising. He has given Boston University distinguished public representation as an articulate and eloquent exponent of Boston University’s mission as an open university singularly free of fads and ideological dogmas.”

Chairman DeWolfe stated, “Boston University is fortunate to enjoy an exceptionally capable senior staff which, along with Dr. Silber, will provide continuity and superior administration to the University community during the search process.”

Boston University is the fourth largest independent university in the United States, with an enrollment of more than 28,000 students in its 17 schools and colleges. Founded in 1839, the University offers an exceptional grounding in the liberal arts, a broad range of undergraduate and graduate programs in the arts, sciences, law, medicine, engineering, and other professional areas in state-of-the-art teaching and research facilities.