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SIU postpones Carbondale chancellor search

By JIM SUHR Associated Press

ST. LOUIS - Just a month into his job, Southern Illinois University President Randy Dunn is faced with managing another major transition, as the chancellor of the Carbondale campus prepares for a likely move to Arizona.

The Arizona Board of Regents announced Friday that Rita Cheng, who has overseen the 18,000-student Carbondale school since 2010, has been named the sole finalist for the presidency of Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.

Cheng's new job isn't a done deal. She still needs to finalize a contract with the Flagstaff school and win approval by the regents, all of which is expected to happen later this month. She is scheduled to attend a formal welcoming ceremony Thursday in Arizona.

Dunn said SIU has not begun a formal search for a successor. And he said the hunt won't be rushed when it does happen.

"I think all of us are very cautious about not getting the cart before the horse on this," Dunn said. "I think we have to be respectful to her while she gets those things finalized."

"I don't see this as anything that puts (our) university at any risk or behind the eight ball in any fashion," he added. "Clearly we have the means within senior SIU leadership and others on campus to get done what needs to get done" in the interim.

Dunn said he was not blindsided by Friday's announcement and that Cheng had already told him privately that "she was looking at some opportunities."

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