Dunn celebrates five years as president

Elizabeth Johnson

File photo/Jordie Oetken

This December marks President Randy Dunn’s fifth year at Murray State.

In recognition of his quinquennial anniversary, Dunn shares some of his most proud achievements, favorite memories and goals for the future.

Since Dunn’s appointment as president, many changes have been made at the University through his leadership and support including the UK Rural Medicine Partnership, the implementation of the myGate/Banner system, the Racer Route Shuttle Partnership, the Triple-I Planning System and the establishment of Racer Academy.

While many programs have been implemented and task forces have been created, Dunn cites his three best achievements as creating the Office of Regional Outreach, increasing enrollment through initiatives such as the Tuition Task Force and reaching the $60 million dollar fundraising goal of the Hold Thy Banner High campaign a year ahead of schedule.

“Generous donors and friends, both old and new, have come forward to show their love for this institution, and I’m especially heartened to say that nearly half of the money raised through the campaign is going not for ‘bricks and mortar’ as is so often the case with these types of efforts, but to support student scholarships and other endowments,” Dunn said.

In addition to the Tuition Task Force, Dunn has implemented a New Library Task Force and a Safety and Emergency Response Task Force. Also paving the way to address important issues at the University are the President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion, Student Success (Retention) and Campus Sustainablity. Through these commissions, the University has adopted a diversity plan, a bike loan program among other initiatives.

Dunn and the University implemented an image change, re-branding the University, designing a new shield and creating the new tagline of “your world to explore.” Also boasting new images, or names for that matter, are the recently Hutson School of Agriculture and the CFSB Center. Future change is coming with the expansion of a Paducah Campus with funding through partnership with the Paducah community members and leaders.

To combat the economic climate and ever-changing world of higher education, Dunn announced in this year’s University Address a new imperative focused on innovation.

“Everyone agrees the old operational and funding models of public higher education are going to have a tough time being sustained into the future,” he said. “While not wanting to overstate things, schools like MSU are being asked to reinvent themselves with different programs, alternative funding streams, changing modes of delivery, and the like. So in the coming years we’ll have to break with some old habits and comfortable ways of doing business to find innovative, less costly ways of performing our uniquely valuable function.”

Looking to the future, Dunn said he hopes the changes he’s made and will continue to make will leave a lasting impression on the University and surrounding area.

“Well, I hope it is the fact that I was serious about taking the University to the region and making it even more integral to every human endeavor taking place across the area we serve – whether it be economic development and job creation, increased health and wellness, better K-12 schools, a more prominent focus on cultural development and historic preservation, building a stronger and greener agricultural and energy base – and the list goes on,” Dunn said of the mark he hopes to leave on the University.

But Dunn’s imprint on the University is not unreciprocated. The University continues to leave a lasting impression with him. While marrying his wife, Ronda, at Oakhurst in 2007 is one of his most memorable experiences at Murray State, Dunn said seeing academic and athletic success have been shining moments.

“I have to tell you that I will never forget the overwhelming flood of emotion when the Racer Men’s Basketball team beat fourth-seed Vanderbilt 66-65 during the first round of the NCAA tournament in March 2010,” he said. “Everyone in that arena at San Jose was pulling for MSU during the game, and when Danero Thomas hit his 15-foot buzzer beater – well, bedlam broke out. Every Racer there was laughing, crying – getting free beverages bought for them after the game – and instantly hearing from friends around the country via text message and email.

“There are hundreds of reasons to be proud to claim both Murray State and Racer Athletics as your own, but that day demonstrated the power that a clean, well-run program – and one where students graduate with a degree – can have for good on a campus.”


        List of Achievements

  • UK Rural Medicine Partnership
  • myGate/Banner
  • Parking and Transportation Work Group – Racer Route Shuttle Partnership
  • Institutional Re-branding, new tag line “Your World to explore”
  • President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion
  • Diversity Plan
  • President’s Commission on Campus Sustainability
  • Bike Loan program
  • Recycling Consortium with the City and County
  • President’s Commission on Student Success
  • Retention efforts around FRE courses, Blackboard and mandatory mid-term grade reporting
  • Triple-I Planning System
  • Enrollment Initiatives
  • New Library Task Force
  • Academic Achievement Scholarship Eligibility Index
  • Paducah Campus funding through partnership with the Paducah community and area leaders
  • Regional Outreach
  • Tuition Task Force
  • Safety and Emergency Response Task Force
  • Hosting GSP (Governor’s Scholar Program)
  • NCAA Recertification
  • SACS Reaffirmation
  • Named Hutson School of Agriculture
  • Named CFSB Center
  • “Hold Thy Banner High” campaign exceeding the goal of $60 million early, extended to $70 million
  • Hosted the International Town and Gown Conference
  • Establishment of the Racer Academy to dual enroll high school students in MSU courses
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