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BRA nominee was dismissed as head of architectural college

The mayor’s first appointment to the Boston Redevelopment Authority board, Theodore Landsmark, was dismissed as president of Boston Architectural College last week, according to people briefed on the matter.

Landsmark, a lawyer who holds three degrees from Yale University and a doctorate from Boston University, is credited with launching programs and helping to expand the college he led for 17 years. But the college’s board of trustees voted to let him go as the school faces mounting challenges.

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“We have been facing greater financial challenges and shrinking enrollment, and we felt it was better for the college to seek new leadership to face these challenges,’’ said Marc W. Pelletier, the college’s board chairman.

City Hall officials said Mayor Martin J. Walsh had not been aware of Landsmark’s termination. “This was news to the Mayor today,” spokeswoman Kate Norton said via e-mail late Tuesday. “We learned of this development through contact from the Globe. The Mayor has reached out to Dr. Landsmark directly but they have not been in contact as of yet.”

Landsmark, 68, said his lawyers were negotiating an ongoing role for him at the college.

“It’s a very amiable conversation,” he said.

Pelletier confirmed the college’s decision was made Thursday. On Friday, the school posted a letter from Pelletier on its website, announcing Landsmark was “ending his tenure as president’’ immediately.

Pelletier said the BRA appointment “came as a total surprise to the entire school here.”

In a news release issued earlier Tuesday, Walsh had highlighted Landsmark’s credentials, including his roles on numerous nonprofit boards, such as at the American Architectural Foundation and the New England Foundation for the Arts. In the 1980s and 1990s, he served in Boston city government, working on employment and antiviolence programs.

“Ted has proven to be an insightful leader who possesses a great sense for what goes into building successful cities,” Walsh said in the press release. “His dedication to public service has inspired countless others, and I’m excited by the fresh perspective and ideas he will bring to the board.”

If confirmed by the City Council, Landsmark would fill the sole vacancy on the five-member BRA board. It meets monthly and is responsible for voting on all final agreements at the authority, including planning studies, rezoning initiatives, and project permitting.

Landsmark holds a place in Boston history, as the man being jabbed with an American flag during the antibusing riots in 1976, when he was a young civil rights activist. A Boston Herald-American photo of the episode won the Pulitzer Prize.

In the mayor’s press release, Landsmark said: “I share Mayor Walsh’s priorities for making the BRA more open and accountable, and I am honored by the opportunity to help guide the agency into a new era. I look forward to applying my knowledge of architecture, design, and sound fiscal management in shaping the future of development in our city.”

The college chairman credits Landsmark with leading “the transformation of BAC from a center into an accredited college that today offers eight baccalaureate and master’s degree programs’’ to 900 students. Landsmark also worked to expand online offerings, the letter said, and is a recognized advocate for diversity. He said the board was talking to Landsmark about “playing a future role at BAC.”

Provost Julia Halevy was named acting president.

Beth Healy can be reached at
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