Dunn removed as SIU President after attempt in dissolving university system


Mary Newman

Southern Illinois University President Randy Dunn listens to the public comments on Wednesday, May 30, 2018, during the Board of Trustee’s special meeting at the SIU School of Medicine auditorium in Springfield. (Mary Newman | @MaryNewmanDE)

By Brian Munoz, Staff Reporter

Randy Dunn has been removed as Southern Illinois University’s president and J. Kevin Dorsey, former dean and provost of the SIU School of Medicine, has been named interim president for a one-year while the board launches a search for a new leader.

Dunn’s removal and Dorsey’s appointment were passed by the SIU Board of Trustees during a vote Monday morning in Edwardsville.

See more: Retired SIU School of Medicine dean named acting president, Dunn separation agreement approved

Dunn and the board have  agreed to a voluntary separation with the university that will pay him a six-month severance of $215,000, according to the agreement. Dorsey will receive a base salary of $430,000.

Dunn will be on paid leave effective Tuesday, before officially being terminated on July 30.

The separation agreement also agrees to hire Dunn as a visiting professor at SIU Edwardsville on a $100,000 annual salary, starting January 1. His role as a visiting professor at SIUE will continue through the Spring 2020 semester.

The salary puts Dunn in the top 8 percent in terms of highest paid faculty members on the Edwardsville campus, according to the 2017-2018 SIU System Salary database.

If placed in the School of Education, Health and Human Behavior, Dunn will be the third highest paid staff member next to Paul Rose, SEHHB dean, who made $125,888.40 during the 2017-2018 school year and Laurel D. Puchner, Educational Leadership department chair, who made $102,457.20 during the 2017-2018 school year. 

It has not yet been identified what Dunn will be teaching at the Edwardsville campus.

Pursuant to section 1.3D of Dunn’s initial contract, “if the appointment of President terminates other than pursuant to Section 4.1 herein and an appointment as professor commences, the President shall then be paid a salary amount that is consistent with other members of the faculty with similar rank and experience as determined by the dean of the college.”

The salary will be negotiated between the dean, provost and the president, according to the hiring contract.

Section 1.3D of Dunn’s contract.

The agreement between Dunn and the SIU Board of Trustees comes following a failed attempt to oust the president after the release of nearly 1,900 pages of public records that show he coordinated with SIU Edwardsville officials and legislators in an attempt to dissolve the SIU system.

Subsequently, the SIU Carbondale Faculty Senate passed a resolution giving Dunn a “vote of no confidence” and called for his removal.

Randy J. Dunn is the eighth president of the SIU System, appointed in 2014.

Dunn started at the Carbondale campus as an professor in the Department of Educational Administration and Higher Education in 1995 and was named EAHE department chair in 2000, before being appointed state superintendent of education by the Illinois State Board of Education.

During his term as chair, Dunn also taught in the joint doctoral program in educational leadership at SIU Edwardsville.

Before taking the helm of the SIU system, Dunn was president at Murray State University from 2006 to 2013.

In a March 2013 meeting, the Murray State Board of Regents voted not to extend Dunn’s contract.

A report reviewed by the board members prior to the vote indicated that the university’s academic standing had fallen since Dunn took over leadership and enrollment at most of the regional campuses had fallen while enrollment at the main campus remained relatively flat.

The report also showed that in at least three major academic rankings, the university dropped significantly.

Murray State’s graduation rate dropped from 59 percent in 2006 to 51 percent in 2012 and the freshman retention rate dropped from 77 percent to 71 percent over the same time period, according to the report.

The vote to not renew Dunn’s contract was deemed controversial after a social gathering the night before the vote at one of the board member’s home in Murray, Kentucky, was revealed.

There was opposition to the vote claiming that the social event held the night prior constituted an illegal meeting since a quorum of members was present, public business was discussed, no minutes were taken and there was not a public notice of the alleged meeting.

Constantine W. Curris, board chairman at the time, moved for a re-vote, noting that the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office had ruled the social gathering in March 2013 as an illegal meeting because a quorum of board members was present and university business was discussed.

After the ruling, the Murray State Board of Regents took a secondary vote on Dunn’s contract renewal and upheld its 7-4 vote in opposition of the renewal.

Less than three weeks after the Murray State Board of Regents initially voted to not renew Dunn’s contract, he was named a finalist in the Youngstown State University presidential search.

Dunn said in an interview with The Murray State News that he was aware of the opening at YSU prior to the board’s vote, but did not apply for the position until its decision was officially made.

“When it became clear given the action of the board on March 15 that my time as president at Murray state would be ticking down in the next 16 months, that obviously called renewed interest to take a look at it,” Dunn said in an April 2013 interview with The Murray State News.

Dunn had previously applied for other positions while president at Murray State University.

Dunn applied to be president of the University of Tennessee system in October 2010, the president’s position at Missouri State University in 2012, the Florida Commissioner of Education in 2012 and he was a finalist in the presidential search at his alma mater, Illinois State University, in 2013.

Curris claimed that Dunn’s willingness to leave Murray State led the board to seek another president.

After leaving his position at Murray State, Dunn became the president at Youngstown State University for the 2013-2014 academic year.

Seven months into his new contract, Dunn announced he would be leaving his position at Youngstown State to become the president at Southern Illinois University.

When asked about the SIU presidency, Dunn told The Vindicator in Ohio , “I didn’t apply per se” for the Southern Illinois job.

The contracted presidential search group SIU used, William Funk & Associates, had approached Dunn multiple times during his time at Youngstown despite Dunn originally turning down the offer to apply.

“This will be the last job for me. I do not plan to leave this position until retirement,” Dunn said in a 2014 interview with the Daily Egyptian.

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

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