Seldom does Murray State gather so much attention when basketball isn’t involved, but the controversy surrounding the Board of?Regents’ decision to not renew President Randy Dunn’s contract is bringing in a lot of attention, and none of it is positive.
On March 14, some members of the board met privately at the home of Regent Sharon Green before voting the next day against renewing Dunn’s contract. If six of eleven Regents attended that social gathering, and if University business was discussed, then this constitutes a criminal act.
According to Kentucky’s open meetings law, the board’s regular meetings are open to the public. If the board discussed any business at all regarding the University then they broke the law, period. Now the question is whether the attending board members will face any legal repercussions for this private meeting.
Board Chair Constantine Curris said regular board business was discussed at the meeting, including some talk about the president’s Ad-hoc Contract Committee Report. That in itself is a violation of the law, provided there were enough board members present to constitute a majority.
Whether or not you like Dunn’s administration, there’s something shady about how the board came to a decision on Dunn’s contract at the meeting. The vote was not scheduled for March 15, rather it was already set for May. The board should have made a decision on Dunn’s contract a year ago, as we editorialized in a previous edition of The News. But once the board did decide to act on his contract it should have been done with transparency and in accordance with Kentucky’s open meetings laws.
Wrongdoing hasn’t been proven yet, and that is important to note here, but the resignation of Faculty Regent Jack Rose and the mere possibility this decision was reached illegally has tainted the entire process.
Murray State is a regional Univeristy and as such it is beholden not only to the students and faculty of the school, but also to members of surrounding communities. The board’s decision to end his contract despite the support of community leaders and local educators (including the 27 school superintendents of western Kentucky) has shown the board feels the only opinion which matters is their own, and most important the opinion of Constantine Curris. Murray State cannot have two presidents.
If Curris had known what was best for this University, his presidency would not have ended in 1983. His own administration is infamous across campus for behaving in the same manner the board has acted in the past few weeks. Enough is enough.
The board has sent us a message. We need to send one right back – that disregard for the law and for how we, the students, staff, faculty and community members feel our University should run and who should run it will not be tolerated. Now is the time to get up, get active and get angry. It is time for the board to be held accountable – maybe not by legal authority, but by the moral authority we have when we stand up for ourselves and our rights.
The staff editorial is the majority opinion of The Murray State News Editorial Board.