Ad-hoc committee sets parameters for review of president’s performance

Ad-hoc committee members, Board of Regent’s Chair Constantine Curris, middle, Vice Chair Marilyn Buchanon and Stephen Williams , chair of the board’s finance committee, met in Louisville, Ky., to discuss the criteria the full board will apply while re-evaluating President Randy Dunn’s employment contract. || Austin Ramsey/The News
Ad-hoc committee members, Board of Regent’s Chair Constantine Curris, middle, Vice Chair Marilyn Buchanon and Stephen Williams , chair of the board’s finance committee, met in Louisville, Ky., to discuss the criteria the full board will apply while re-evaluating President Randy Dunn’s employment contract. || Austin Ramsey/The News

Ad-hoc committee members, Board of Regent’s Chair Constantine Curris, middle, Vice Chair Marilyn Buchanon and Stephen Williams , chair of the board’s finance committee, met in Louisville, Ky., to discuss the criteria the full board will apply while re-evaluating President Randy Dunn’s employment contract. || Austin Ramsey/The News

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Board members outlined plans Wednesday to move forward with an evaluation document that the Board of Regents will use to make a final decision on President Randy Dunn’s employment contract.

In a special meeting of the board’s ad-hoc contract review committee in Louisville, committee members agreed on four strategic areas of importance in determining Dunn’s performance at the University: University progress, public resolutions of support or criticism, relationships between the board and the president and the board’s final contract. Board Chair Constantine Curris, Vice Chair Marilyn Buchanon and Stephen Williams, chair of the board’s finance committee, are the three members of the ad-hoc committee, and were present Wednesday to discuss the four inititative goals.

Curris recommended that the committee collect specific data under each provision of the final report to the board.

Buchanon was assigned to compare University rankings from such national, fact-based publications as U.S. News & World Report, Forbes and Kiplingers Personal Finance. She will take statistics from when Dunn was hired at the University in 2007 and compare how Murray State fared in the same publications more recently.

Williams will look into audit and compliance issues and the financial status of the University over the course of Dunn’s five years. He said it was important that the committee measure and acknowledge the number of legal issues in which Murray State has been involved for the sake of comparison.

Finally, Curris, who lives and works in Lexington, Ky., will personally visit the CPE offices in Frankfort to collect information on enrollment, graduation rates, state appropriations and incoming ACT scores, among other facts and figures.

He said it was important to compare the figures his search uncovered not only with past years at the University, but similar data from sister universities in the state.

Buchanon suggested that data could also be compared to universities of similar size such as Austin Peay in Clarksville, Tenn., but Williams and Curris agreed that the method of measurement would only be standardized if data were collected from the same institution.

“We just want to know how Murray State is doing today in light of where it was in 2007,” Curris said.

At the start of the meeting, Curris said it was important that all ad-hoc committee Regents come to agreement for the final report that will be presented to the board.

He said he understood that some disagreements will come up, but that minimal wording should outline that upon which members disagree. Rather, the final report should reflect mainly agreeable language for the sake of clarity.

Dunn assumed the position of president in December of 2006. His current contract, revised in 2010, is set to expire June 30, 2014, but it stipulates that the Board of Regents must decide on an extension by June 30 of this year.

In December, the board passed a resolution to create the ad-hoc committee and outlined two important dates.

On March 15, the committee plans to go into executive session with the full board to measure its progress. There still exists some question as to whether or not it is legal for board to hold that meeting in a closed session. When Curris was asked how the meeting would be held, he said that decision could not be made until farther along in the contract review process, despite the fact that the board already passed the resolution outlining the intention to hold the meeting behind closed doors.

“I don’t know,” he said. “We haven’t come to that point yet.”

Curris, who spoke with reporters after Wednesday’s meeting, said the final board decision on Dunn’s contract would likely not occur until June in a special meeting for budget finalization business.

The ad-hoc committee, which received data collection assignments Wednesday, will discuss a time to meet at least once more before the March meeting.

In May, the ad-hoc committee will present its findings to the full board.

Only then, Curris said, will actual contract negotiations take place. He did say, however, that the board could make a recommendation to either renew or deny the contract at any time after the March meeting.

Story by Austin Ramsey, Editor-in-Chief.