Board chair announces executive committee does not have authority to remove Dunn


Isabel Miller / The Daily Egyptian

Board of Trustees Chair Amy Sholar discussing actions to streamline the voting process of the special meeting on Wednesday, May 30, 2018, during the Board of Trustee’s special meeting at the SIU School of Medicine auditorium in Springfield.

By Brian Munoz, Staff Reporter

Amy Sholar, SIU Board of Trustees Chair, has announced that the executive committee does not have the authority to remove president Randy Dunn from the presidency and appoint an acting president.

“I’ve reviewed the bylaws for the SIU Board of Trustees and, under these circumstances, I am not convinced the executive committee has the authority to remove President Dunn or appoint anyone as a replacement,” Sholar said through an emailed statement. “Also, I do not believe that the matter is so urgent that an executive committee meeting is permissible for the purposes stated by these trustees.”

The board chair has the “authority to interpret and apply the bylaws between meetings,” Sholar said.

“It is my decision that the executive committee cannot meet for the purposes stated in the call for the meeting for the above reasons,” Sholar said.

At least one-half of the total membership of the Board shall be required for the initial selection of the President or the termination of the President’s services, according to board bylaws.

The call for a special meeting by Trustees J. Phil Gilbert and Joel Sambursky comes weeks after the release of notes and emails that show Dunn was working with SIU Edwardsville officials in an attempt to shift more than $5 million in state funding from the Carbondale campus.

In the emails, Dunn spoke on the 60/40 state appropriation split between the campuses and said that it was to “shut the bitchers up from Carbondale.”

Following the release of the emails in an opinion piece written by former faculty senate president Kathleen Chwalisz published in the Southern Illinoisan, two representatives called for Dunn’s resignation.

Dunn told the Chicago Tribune on Wednesday that he was unaware of the meeting being called and that he did not request to take any type of leave from his job.

“At this point I don’t know any more information than you do,” Dunn said. “I’ll be talking to my representation and seeing what I can find out beyond that. I’m trying to get some information myself on what’s planned with it.”

See more: Board of Trustees Executive Committee to hold special meeting Friday, consideration to put Dunn on administrative leave

Sholar said that Trustees Gilbert and Sambursky were attempting to get around the rule by placing Dunn on leave rather than an outright termination and that the executive committee clearly does not have the ability to make the selection of a President.

“Our rules clearly contemplate that the full Board should make such an important decision, rather than a small faction thereof,” Sholar said.

Sholar further cited Article III of the bylaws which states that the executive committee “shall possess all the powers of the board when in session, provided that it shall not overrule, revise, or change the previous acts of the board.”

“As it was the full Board that hired President Dunn, for the executive committee to relieve him and appoint a replacement would effectively undo a previous action of the Board, which is beyond the limited powers of this committee and would not proper in my judgment,” Sholar said.

Sholar said while the executive committee has the authority to meet in regards to urgent matters, the two trustees who called the meeting have no shared the urgency with her.

Gilbert and Sambursky also did not tell the chair that a special meeting needed to be called, Sholar said.

“If this issue truly cannot wait until the next regular meeting I would gladly call a special meeting to occur in the very near future so the full Board can vote on whether President Dunn should be relieved,” Sholar said.  

The chairwoman said that she has the “authority to decide the meaning and application of the bylaws between meetings” according to board bylaws.

Therefore, it is my decision that the executive committee does not have the authority to appoint an interim President or even to relieve the current President of his duties,” Sholar said. “I also do not believe that this matter, which was discussed at the special meeting last week, is now so urgent that we must call an emergency meeting even if the executive committee had the authority to make these decisions.”

Sholar said that if a meeting is held and a vote is taken, it would be considered invalid.

If Trustees J. Phil Gilbert and Joel Sambursky disagree with me then we should have a special meeting at which not only this decision but the underlying issue itself can be discussed and voted on by the full Board,” Sholar said.

Sholar said that a decision is to be made on Dunn’s future it should be made by the full board and not by two trustees.

It truly baffles me that these two trustees, both representing the Carbondale campus, would attempt to exclude the full Board from participating in this important issue after we approved a policy just last week that we would advocate for keeping the SIU system together,” Sholar said.

Trustees J. Phil Gilbert and Joel Sambursky are not making statements at this time, according to board secretary Misty Whittington.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available. 

Staff reporter Brian Munoz can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @BrianMMunoz.

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