updated 6/5/2005 1:02:30 AM ET 2005-06-05T05:02:30

Boston University’s board of trustees tapped a top administrator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for its new president Saturday, 18 months after a former NASA official abruptly backed out of the job.

Robert Brown, MIT’s provost, will take over for interim BU president Aram Chobanian on Sept. 1, school officials said after the board’s unanimous vote.

Brown, 53, was picked following a search that started last year. Former NASA chief Daniel S. Goldin was given the job in 2003, but withdrew a day before he was to start.

Goldin, who had clashed with trustees and longtime president and chancellor John Silber, was reportedly paid a severance package of $1.8 million without serving a single day as president.

Brown praised Chobanian’s role in helping BU cope with the fallout from Goldin’s sudden departure and said his first order of business would be to open new lines of communication with faculty members, students and alumni.

“I’m very confident that all of that will be chalked up as a great learning experience,” he said.

Brown has been a member of the MIT faculty since 1979. He chaired the school’s chemical engineering department before becoming provost in 1998.

Brown said he plans to spend the summer taking a “crash course in BU.”

“I think BU is a great private university in a great city,” he said. “It has established itself as playing a major role in higher education.”

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