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SIU trustees select Dunn as president

BY KATHLEEN FOX kfox@paducahsun.com

Former Murray State University president Randy Dunn will become president of Southern Illinois University.

The school's trustees voted unanimously Monday to select Dunn during a meeting at the Edwardville, Ill., campus. The choice follows a five-month search process that began in October led by the search firm of R. William Funk and Associates of Dallas, and included more than 100 candidates, according to John Charles, SIU executive director for governmental and public affairs.

Board chairman Randal Thomas cited Dunn's connection to the SIU system and regional area as important factors in his selection. Dunn spent nine years on campus working in the education department.

"Randy Dunn has both the skills and the background to ensure that SIU continues to live up to its mission of providing a quality education for thousands of students, serving as an academic and economic engine and meeting the health care needs of individuals and families in central and southern Illinois," he said.

Dunn, who has served as the president of Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio, since July 2013, was one of five finalists sent by the presidential search advisory committee to the SIU Board of Trustees.

Members of the Youngstown State University Board of Trustees expressed surprise and frustration to the Daily Egyptian newspaper at SIU regarding Dunn's appointment.

"It's a sudden surprise," trustee Harry Meshel said. "I'm quite unhappy about it, because I was very supportive and thought he was a great person. I looked forward to working with him for many years."

Chairman Sudershan Garg agreed, adding, " ... He surprised us all by not telling anybody, and we were not happy about it. We wish he'd kept the board more involved."

The Youngstown board of trustees held an two-plus hour meeting Monday night with Dunn, according to university director of communications Ron Cole.

Dunn told board members during executive session that he had accepted the SIU presidency and provided written notice that he will resign his position. The resignation will be effective on Aug. 16. His contract mandated 180 days of advance written notice of a planned resignation, Cole said.

In March 2013, the Murray State Board of Regents voted 7-4 not to extend Dunn's contract. The board then voted a second time with the same result, following an opinion by the Kentucky Attorney General's Office that a social gathering held prior to the first vote violated the open meeting laws. Following the vote, Dunn resigned to accept the position at Youngstown.

Murray State interim president Tim Miller said although Dunn has a knowledge of the regional area, he doesn't believe the appointment will affect the university's recruitment of local students.

"It will just make us (at Murray State) work harder but we don't anticipate too much competition because they are just a much bigger school," Miller said. "We have a great campus and that is what students will see."

President of Paducah Economic Development Chad Chancellor, who worked closely with Dunn on Murray State's new Paducah campus, said he doesn't anticipate Dunn's popularity locally affecting college decision-making for students because of the large number of Murray State alumni in Paducah and the school's commitment to regionalism.

"MSU is our university. We could have gone to a lot of other schools for the (Paducah) campus but we went to Murray State," he said.

According to Dunn's contract at SIU, he will earn a salary of $430,000 per year. Current president Glenn Poshard, who has served as president since 2006, announced his plans to retire effective June 30.

Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.

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