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Dunn takes SIU president position

February 21, 2014 News

dunn-frontFormer president Randy Dunn will take over the presidential position of the Southern Illinois University system, leaving Youngstown State University after seven months. The Board of Trustees at Southern Illinois announced the unanimous decision Monday afternoon. His four-year contract at the university system will earn Dunn $430,000 a year.

Dunn began at Youngstown State in Ohio in July of 2013.

According to Youngstown’s The Vindicator, Dunn failed to attend a recruitment event at the university Monday.

University officials were surprised at the possibility of losing their new president.

Not only will Dunn be leaving Youngstown State, but the provost and the vice president for academic affairs have announced they are leaving as well.

The Vindicator also reported that Dunn told trustees Monday he will resign Aug. 16 unless a replacement is chosen before then.

Chris Koechner, senior from Marion, Ill., was recently accepted into the Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine.

“It’s definitely odd that I’m attending two universities that have had the same president,” Koechner said. “I believe Dunn is a great president and will do a good job (at Southern Illinois).”

According to Inside Higher Ed., R. William Funk & Associates was the search firm used by Southern Illinois.

William Funk, head of the firm, told Inside Higher Ed that he’s never “plucked away such a new president.”

Dunn told The Vindicator that he didn’t “apply per se.”


Staff Report

Dunn begins presidency at Youngstown State

July 15, 2013 News

Former Murray State president Randy Dunn begins his new position at Youngstown State University today.

Dunn is the eighth president of Youngstown State after being elected by the YSU Board of Trustees in May. Dunn follows former YSU president Cynthia Anderson who retired on June 30.

Dunn and his wife, Ronda moved to Youngstown, Ohio into the Pollock House last week after making the nine-hour drive from Murray.

Anderson owned a home and did not live in the Pollock House, which is reserved for the president of YSU. Dunn is the first to live in the house since its $4.5 million renovations.

In his first week in office, Dunn is scheduled to meet with media sources, visit summer classes and meet with YSU vice presidents.

Dunn served as Murray State president for six years.

Tim Miller, interim president for Murray State, has already started to fulfill duties as interim, but officially the assumes title today.

Staff Report.

Regents vote on Dunn’s contract, budget recommendations

May 10, 2013 News

The Board of Regents voted again Friday morning to not renew President Randy Dunn’s contract. This vote comes almost two months after the original vote of non-renewal in march.

Prior to the vote board chairman Constantine Curris outlined the events from the private meeting held at Regent Sharon Green’s home on March 14. He then asked for a motion to vote on the renewal of Dunn’s contract. Curris said members present at the gathering discussed the University budget, and recommendations from budget planning and review teams that were discussed at a special meeting earlier in the day.

Curris asked three times for a motion before newly sworn in Faculty Regent Renee Fister made a motion for an extension. During the discussion portion of the motion on renewing Dunn’s contract, only those who voted in favor of Dunn provided comment.

Vice-chair Marilyn Buchanon, said even though the opinions of the board are divided, she did not believe this was a divided board.

“We all have the best interest of the University,” Buchanon said.

Other business:

Judge Dennis Foust swore in Renee Fister as the Faculty Regent prior to the report of the chair and committee reports.

Items 62 and 193 were removed from the budget cut recommendations list. The recommendations were to reduce housing scholarships and reducing student work opportunity on campus by 10 percent.

After Curris was voted as chair of the board for the 2013-14 term, he announced this would be his last year serving as chair of the Board of Regents. His term will end June 1, 2014. Buchanon was also named vice chair of the Board of Regents for another term.

Story by Meghann Anderson, News Editor.

A president’s past

May 3, 2013 News

He could not say he was shocked when only four members of the Board of Regents voted to renew his contract as president.

He survived conflict, questions of legal proceedings and bad press.

He endured a time on campus of tension and turmoil.

Constantine Curris could not say he was not prepared to leave Murray State and step down as president in 1982.

File Photo – Constantine "Deno" Curris speaks to the press after ending an 18-month controversy at Murray State.

File Photo – Constantine “Deno” Curris speaks to the press after ending an 18-month controversy at Murray State.

“I understand that it was politics,” Curris told The News in ’82. “It had nothing to do with my performance as president.”

Curris left Murray State after an attempt by the board to fire him in an executive session away from the eyes of the public. The Regents, along with several local lawyers, gathered more than 20 charges against the president to oust him.

After 18 months of court cases, agreements and executive sessions, the board allowed Curris to serve out his time at Murray State. At a meeting before the June 30, 1982, deadline, the board chose not to renew Curris’ contract with a 5-4-1 vote.

Soon after, Gov. John Brown Jr. asked the state-appointed Regents to resign, and installed a new board and chair.

Despite the arrival of new Regents, Curris released a statement to the governor saying he would not ask the board for a contract extension. He informed the press that he would begin searching for a new position elsewhere.

Curris told The News in October of 1982 that conflict between the board and president arose because the Regents were politically focused in their decisions.

“I have defended myself and I have responded to things done by the board, but I have never tried to go out and do to the board what they did to me,” Curris said. “The viciousness with which some people dealt with the situation was appalling.”

Curris went on to serve as president at the University of Northern Iowa and Clemson University, and president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

In 2009, Gov. Steve Beshear appointed Curris to stand as chair of the Murray State Board of Regents.


Three years following his appointment, Curris was considering the performance of President Randy Dunn, and deciding with the board whether or not to renew his contract. The board created an ad hoc committee to discuss the contract and provide a report to the Regents on the University’s growth during Dunn’s term.

The committee originally decided to discuss the findings with the board at the March 15, 2013 meeting, and then vote at the next. However, the report was circulated to the Regents two days before the March meeting and was never publicly discussed.

At the March 15 meeting, a motion was made to vote on the renewal of Dunn’s contract. The proposal of a vote was never mentioned in the meeting agenda, only the approval of minutes for the ad hoc committee’s meeting in February.

File Photo – Presiden Randy Dunn speaks at a University function in the Curris Center.

File Photo – Presiden Randy Dunn speaks at a University function in the Curris Center.

Dunn said he did not see the ad hoc committee report until after the vote was made not to renew his contract. In a meeting with faculty and staff, Dunn addressed the report, calling it selective and inappropriately gathered.

The report, obtained by The News through an open records request, contained several pieces of information evaluating Dunn in financial, academic and behavioral aspects. Several letters from alumni were also attached, some approving and some disapproving of Dunn’s performance.

The final section of the report addressed a communication problem between Dunn and the board, particularly the chair. Dunn implied he never got the chance to defend himself to the members of the board on the supposed problem with communication.

“Disagreement does not equal disrespect,” Dunn said.

Curris, during his time as president, expressed similar problems with communication and transparency.

In ’82, Chair Ron Christopher gave Curris the opportunity to resign before any charges were found against him, several months before the decision was made not to renew his contract. Curris alleged that five members of the board, including the chair, had either personally participated in or were knowledgeable of the undertaking to wrongfully, unlawfully and unconstitutionally remove him.

“The resolution implied, if not in fact resolved that a fair opportunity would not be given to defend myself,” Curris said.

He then filed suit with attorney William Logan against the Board of Regents.


Prior to the original vote by the board in ’82 to oust Curris, five Regents met, ate lunch and discussed University business, as confessed by Regents to Logan. Right before the meeting, the Student Regent checked the Murray State legal library for information on firing the president of a public University.

At the time, Curris displayed his distrust for the board and the politics in which they secretly participated.

Curris and the current Board of Regents have now been found guilty by the attorney general for holding a meeting of quorum without taking minutes, at a Regent’s house the night before the March 15 meeting. Curris and other Regents said Dunn’s performance and other University matters were discussed at that social gathering.

The next day, the Board voted 7-4 not to renew Dunn’s contract.

Lexington, Ky., attorney Jim Deckard filed a complaint with Curris, asking him to void any action of the meeting after what he considered was an illegal gathering of the board. Curris denied his request, and Deckard filed a formal complaint with the attorney general.

After the attorney general released his opinion, finding the board in violation of two Kentucky Open Meetings Act laws, Deckard said he would sue the board if it did not void the actions of the meeting. If Deckard sues, the case will be taken to Calloway County Circuit Court.

As coverage of the illegal meeting by major news outlets and organizations spread, several Murray State alumni have come forward in support of Dunn. Richard Hurt, a medical doctor for the Mayo Clinic, told the board in a letter he would pay for Dunn’s legal fees to sue them and withdraw his donations from the University if they did not reconsider his contract.

“(Hurt) has a passion for the University and justice, and seeing things done the right way,” Dunn said. “He’s upset about what he saw happen here with my nonrenewal.”

Richard Hurt is the brother of Harold Hurt, one of the attorneys who represented the Board of Regents in ’82 in the attempt to oust Curris. At the time, Curris would not sign off to pay the board attorneys, as their services were never approved by Attorney General Steve Beshear.

Beshear refused to approve the services because the board already had legal representation, and the University president was required to sign off for the payment of counsel as well.

Dunn said it is too early to tell what action will be taken legally, but he acknowledged the issue is not at its end. He said with time, after the conflict ends, a positive feeling will return to the Murray State campus.

After Curris made the decision to not pursue a contract renewal with the new group of Regents in ’82, he spoke on a similar note. He described a warm glow returning to campus after more than two years of a dark period in Murray State’s history.

Curris told The News in ‘82 of three goals he had throughout the conflict: “To fight for my reputation and good name; to thwart the political and unprincipled efforts to remove me from the presidency; and to work to restore a progressive climate on campus that would again attract and retain quality faculty, staff and students.”

 Story by Lexy Gross, Editor-in-Chief.

Celebrate and Support a Fair Kentucky

April 18, 2013 News
Lori Allen/The News In support of inclusive public policies and an increasingly diverse society, Alliance, along with LGBT Programming, held the 7th annual Celebrate and Support a Fair Kentucky Saturday. Alliance also took the opportunity to recognize President Randy Dunn as this year’s Jane Etheridge Ally of the Year.

Lori Allen/The News
In support of inclusive public policies and an increasingly diverse society, Alliance, along with LGBT Programming, held the 7th annual Celebrate and Support a Fair Kentucky Saturday. Alliance also took the opportunity to recognize President Randy Dunn as this year’s Jane Etheridge Ally of the Year.

In support of inclusive public policies and an increasingly diverse society, Alliance, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender campus group, along with LGBT Programming, held the event, Celebrate and Support a Fair Kentucky.  Approximately 100 people attended the fundraiser on Saturday in support of the LGBT community.

Jody Cofer, LGBT program coordinator, said this was the seventh year Alliance has held the event and like previous years, it was a success.

This year’s event raised $5,367, which is approximately $300 more than last year.  These    funds go into an account that Murray State’s LGBT Programming has with the MSU Foundation.  It will be used for programming and activities for the 2013-2014 academic year.

“Celebrate serves many purposes,” Cofer said. “Mainly to give the LGBT and ally community in this area an opportunity to come together and do just what the name suggests—celebrate our many accomplishments, while also serving to raise funds to support future activities of Murray State’s LGBT Programming.”

Other benefactors include Equality Federation and Kentucky Fairness Alliance which seeks to advocate equality for LGBT people through leadership development, public education and by encouraging participation in the democratic process.

“To-date, a majority of successes made in this area have been at the local and state level, not federally” Cofer said. “That is why it is critical that efforts such as this event serve to benefit the organizations that are leading and growing the capacity for future success.”To-date, a majority of successes that have been made in this area have been at the local and state level – not federally. That is why it is critical that efforts such as this event serve to benefit the organizations that are leading and growing the capacity for future success. To-date, a majority of successes that have been made in this area have been at the local and state level – not federally. That is why it is critical that efforts such as this event serve to benefit the organizations that are leading and growing the capacity for future success.

In addition to a silent auction which featured items from all over western Kentucky, attendants heard from special guest Jeff Krehely from Washington D.C., who serves as vice president and chief foundation officer at the Human Rights Campaign.

The HRC is one of the largest LGBT advocacy and education organizations in the nation. Krehely outlined what sorts of activities are taking place in Washington surrounding the LGBT and ally community.

Alliance also uses the event as a platform to recognize a faculty or staff member as the Jane Etheridge Ally of the Year for going above and beyond in their support.

The annual award is the highest honor Alliance can bestow on an ally each year for going above and beyond to support the LGBT community. This year Alliance awarded it to Murray State president Randy Dunn.

To recognize president Dunn, Alliance president Michael Penner spoke on behalf of the organization’s officers, commending him on his support of the LGBT community at Murray State.

Penner said: “During his presidential tenure, Murray State has adopted an LGBT inclusive diversity plan with his support and guidance earning Murray State recognition across the Commonwealth of Kentucky. He has used his position to advocate for a more inclusive campus, often referencing the importance of supporting the LGBT community during speaking engagements addressing diversity. We would like to thank Dr. Dunn for his continued support of the LGBT community and give him this in recognition of our appreciation.”

Cofer said, beyond citing the work LGBT Programming, Alliance and the ally community at Murray State has made over the last several years, Dunn spoke more broadly about the continued role of higher education to be drivers of social innovation.

Story by Alex Berg, Staff writer.

Dunn addresses faculty and staff at open forum

April 16, 2013 News

On Tuesday afternoon President Randy Dunn addressed members of Faculty Senate, Staff Congress and other attendees at an open forum where he discussed details in ad-hoc draft report.

The forum comes in response to last week’s meeting where board chairman Constantine Curris explained his perspective the board’s decision not to renew Dunn’s contract.

Dunn presented a powerpoint and addressed numbers from the University’s academic standing, enrollment and board/president relations since he began at Murray State. Some of the numbers Dunn presented in the forum included the increase of online enrollment by 150.3 percent from 2006-2012 and the fact that Murray State did drop in the Forbes Best Buy rankings. He said between 2008-2012, 81 schools were added to the Forbes Best Buy list, so it was foreseen that the University would drop in rankings.

Approximately two hours after the forum ended, officials from Youngstown State announced Dunn was a top three finalist in the presidential search. Dunn said he told Curris a year ago he would be looking at other positions after he refused to talk to the board about contract extension.

Dunn said he thinks there was selective use of data, particularly in the Ad-Hoc review committee  draft report to represent his performance during his time at Murray State. He said his presentation was to give a richer, fuller picture of his performance.

“The president needs to be the 12th member of the board,” Dunn said. “Does that mean they get a vote? No.” He said communication between the two is crucial.

Other issues he addressed in the forum was the amount of contributions to the University. He said they will not be affected because of contract non-renewal. He said he also does not see the current situation affecting the provost search.

Dunn agreed that there was disagreement between him and the board.

“Disagreement does not equal disrespect,” he said. “I call on the board to release the letters; good and bad.”

“It’s still a gut-punch,” Dunn said in reference to the vote of the board not renewing his contract. “Do I think I’m a perfect president? Heaven’s no; because we have seen a slight in some of these numbers, we are challenged to keep enrollment growing. We have all kinds of things we are trying to work on to make the University better.

Staff Report.

Dunn begins interviews at Youngstown State

April 12, 2013 News

President Randy Dunn has been named one of eight remaining semi-finalists for the position of president at Youngstown State University. This announcement came less than three weeks after the Board of Regents voted not to renew his contract with Murray State.

Dunn said 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, specifically until the weekend after the March Board of Regents meeting.

“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,” he said.

This is not the first time Dunn has applied for a job at another university while still president of Murray State. Dunn was one of two finalists for the position of president at Missouri State in September and he was one of three finalists to be the next Florida Commissioner of Education in December.

Chair of the board Constantine Curris noted Dunn’s failure to alert the board in the previous two applications and the applications themselves as a breach of their trust and a major reason for the way the Regents voted.

The interviews for the position of president will be held this weekend at Hyatt Regency Pittsburg International Airport in Youngstown, Ohio.

The YSU presidential search committee is expected to narrow down the list of remaining candidates from three to five finalists by May 15 and hope to have selected a new president by June 12.

Staff Report

Not a divided board?

March 31, 2013 News, Slider Featured stories

DunnVsBoardofRegents_MG_8001_WEBThe fate of President Randy Dunn’s stay at Murray State has been decided. Members of the Board of Regents voted 7-4 not to extend the longtime executive in a controversial quarterly meeting shortly before Spring Break.

Dunn’s contract is set to expire in June of 2014 and the board decision to vote came at the end of the meeting, when board Chairman Constantine Curris said a majority of the board had indicated to him they were ready to decide and did not want to wait until the next board meeting in May.

Prior to the vote, the board passed the minutes from the January meeting of the ad-hoc committee that included Curris, Vice-Chair Marilyn Buchanan and Stephen Williams.

Faculty Regent Jack Rose, Staff Regent Phil Schooley, Susan Guess and Jenny Sewell voted in favor of renewing Dunn’s contract, while Student Regent Jeremiah Johnson, Curris, Buchanan, Stephen Williams, Harry Lee Waterfield, Sharon Green and Jerry Sue Thornton voted against the renewal.

After the vote, Buchanan moved to create a search committee to find the next University president, which passed by a 9-0 vote. Schooley and Rose abstained.

With controversy surrounding the vote, Curris denies allegations of politics or personal agendas playing a role in board’s decision.

Dunn thanked the board for the opportunity to serve and said he would be pursuing other venues. He then promptly left the room following the adjournment.

Story by Meghann Anderson, News Editor.

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