By Denise Dick
Growing enrollment and retention while keeping an eye on the budget will be early focuses for Youngstown State University’s next president.
Those are things that already are underway by personnel on campus, Randy Dunn said, and he plans to initially work to get to know YSU’s people, programs, campus and community.
By an 8-0 vote Friday evening, YSU trustees picked Dunn, president of Murray State University since 2006, to be YSU’s next president. Trustee Carole Weimer was absent.
Dunn said a big attraction for him to YSU was the vital role it plays in the region.
“The Mahoning Valley is critically tied to the university and vice versa,” Dunn said. “That’s a defining element of what a great state university is.”
Trustees authorized Dr. Sudershan Garg, board chairman, and Dr. John Jakubek, vice chairman, to negotiate and execute an employment contract with Dunn. The appointment isn’t final until a contract is reached.
Cynthia E. Anderson, YSU president since 2010, is retiring June 30. Her 2013 salary is $400,000.
Assuming a contract is reached, Dunn is expected to start at YSU by July 15.
“When we interviewed Dr. Dunn in Pittsburgh, he was a great communicator,” Dr. Garg said. “He has a clear vision and a lot of energy.”
Dunn was selected from three finalists, each of whom visited the campus during the last two weeks. James Moran III, vice chancellor for academic and student affairs at the Pennsylvania System of Higher Education, and William Decatur, executive vice president for finance and administration, chief financial officer and treasurer at the Rhode Island School of Design, were the other two finalists. Fifty-seven people applied for the job.
Anderson announced last December her plan to retire at the end of her current contract.
Dunn also was a finalist for president of Illinois State University in Normal, Ill. That board of trustees selected a different candidate Friday.
Earlier this year, the board of regents of Murray State voted not to renew Dunn’s contract, which expires in 2014.
That decision caused a flurry of controversy on the Kentucky campus. One board member resigned, and an alumnus threatened to stop donating to the university.
The Murray State board’s vote followed a private meeting among board members the night before. The Kentucky State attorney general declared that meeting violated Kentucky’s open-meetings law.
The board voted again this week not to renew Dunn’s contract.
Dr. Garg said the action of Murray State’s board isn’t a concern to YSU.
“His contract was not renewed — he wasn’t fired,” he said. “There’s always difference of opinion between a board and a president.”
Murray State has about 10,800 students. YSU’s fall 2012 enrollment was 13,800.
Before being appointed president of Murray State, Dunn served as state superintendent of education of Illinois for two years. He’s also worked as a university professor and assistant professor and a school superintendent, principal and teacher.
He has a doctorate of education from the University of Illinois and master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Illinois State.
In an effort to boost enrollment, which has suffered a downturn the last two years, Dunn wants to look at using brand messaging particularly in recruiting first-time freshmen to YSU. Social-media marketing also is important, he said. He also wants to work with students transferring to YSU from Eastern Gateway Community College.
In choosing a new position, Dunn said he and his wife, Ronda, were looking for “a community where we feel like we fit in and belong and the relationship gets established clearly.
“That came across during our visit. Everyone was very welcoming.”