Address centers on Murray State’s future

President Randy Dunn focused the annual State of the University address on the ‘three prongs’ of Murray State’s future. || Beamer Barron/The News

President Randy Dunn focused the annual State of the University address on the ‘three prongs’ of Murray State’s future. || Beamer Barron/The News

The speech Dunn presents each year is his opportunity to address the campus constituents on University issues and plans.

The three prongs Dunn announced for Murray State’s future reiterated the strategic imperatives that were set in place earlier in Dunn’s presidency, but certain parts of the imperatives will now be more closely monitored. Those three points were excellence through quality, outreach with partnerships and innovation for impact.

The first prong, Dunn said, was that there would now be less expansive approaches in regards to the imperatives. Instead of so many individual efforts across the campus, the University will work together.

The second prong he said will establish increased scrutiny on the use and appropriations of funds. He said it is now more critical than ever that the University keep an eye on how public funds are spent. There is to be a heightened level of review and analysis.

Thirdly, Dunn said the University must change the University’s community of interest – its students. He said the University is not going to become a community college, but that the institution could do more to help those who are returning to school from the workforce.

Dunn said it was a bit awkward to speak in front of the University constituents in regards to his recent visit to Missouri State University as a semifinalist for its presidential position.

“I have no idea of what events may unfold within the next few weeks,” he said. “If I stay, I will still be working just as diligently, but if there is a new president they will as well.”

Dunn said the University should be proud of all it had accomplished in the last year. He reiterated statements that the University has been named a best buy college by Forbes and the University was the No. 1, in regards to public and private in Kentucky, for giving non-need based aid to undergraduate students.

The three prongs were created to shift the University in another direction.

“The drivers of the change are the fiscal constraints,” he said.

He said the imperatives were going to stay, but would require a reframing. They won’t be as direction-setting as they were in the past, he said.

The Hutson School of Agriculture has been doing work with alternative energies, including the use of biofuels, which, he said, marks a positive path that helps lead Murray State in innovation both regionally and nationally.

“As points of light develop on campus we will have to figure out how we will work together as an institution,” Dunn said. “We’re not changing the imperatives … but there will be a change to the way things will be done in the future.”

Bonnie Higginson, vice president of Academic Affairs, said she understood the need and factors, which caused the change in the imperatives.

“The funding is under review,” she said. “I hope this will serve to strengthen the University.”

Staff Congress President John Young agreed with Higginson and said the change in direction was necessary.

“From what I heard today, it won’t be a huge change,” he said. “There will now just be more emphasis on the measurements of programs and more justification required.”

Jeremiah Johnson, student regent and president of the Student Government Association, said he was in support of the president’s directions and the fact that the University will be focusing on what it has already started, but with more direction. Johnson said that focus like that is what Murray?State needs.

“The last two years (Dunn) has been very general, and now that we have those initiatives established, like the West Kentucky Agbioworks or the groups for regional outreach, we can use the partnerships we already have and build on those.”

Johnson said he also agrees with the continuation of budget reviewal teams that Dunn proposed last semester, so the budget is not only the responsibility of the president or vice presidents.

Story by Chris Wilcox, News Editor.