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YSU president can’t expect a fond farewell when he leaves

Published: Sun, February 23, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

By all accounts, Dr. Randy Dunn was on his way to becoming one of the more popular presidents in the history of Youngstown State University. We use the word “was” because now Dunn is persona non grata for many Mahoning Valley residents.

The unprofessional, disrespectful manner in which he announced that he is leaving YSU to take over the presidency of Southern Illinois University in Carbondale has destroyed the good will he worked so hard to create.

Dr. Dunn, who began his short-lived tenure at Youngstown State on July 15 of last year, is not deserving of the region’s good wishes as he moves on. He is abandoning the open-access, urban institution — at a time when Ohio’s 13 public universities and colleges are under intense scrutiny from Gov. John Kasich and the Republican-controlled General Assembly.

The word out of Columbus is that state funding for higher education will not increase any time soon, which means Youngstown State must come to terms with a shrinking budget. The continued decline in enrollment has forced the administration and trustees to reduce spending. Another tuition increase is in the offing.

Dunn reached out to the faculty, staff and administrators and established a level of co- operation that drew high praise from all quarters of the university.

But, with the president departing on Aug. 16, if not sooner, YSU has suffered a major setback.

The kind and generous comments from trustee Chairman Dr. Sudershan Garg after a private meeting in which Dunn formally tendered his resignation were unwarranted.


Dunn’s failure to give the trustees a heads-up as to his intentions cannot be downplayed. It made his bosses look incompetent and ridiculous; they were forced to admit ignorance after the student newspaper at Southern Illinois University broke the story that Dunn was to be hired as president.

His excuse that he was operating under a confidentiality agreement with the SIU trustees is lame, at best. It is now clear that they wanted him to lead the university, where he had worked for many years, and that he wanted to be there.

Dunn could easily have told the SIU trustees that he owed the YSU trustees an early explanation for his plans to possibly leave so suddenly, given how supportive they have been of him since his coming to Youngstown.

But it isn’t just the way he handled his resignation that has caused us to reassess our support of him. We believe that his failure to serve out his contract is not only a breach of trust, but sends the wrong message to the university community, especially the students and the community at large.

There is a level of responsibility and commitment that comes with being president of a university (a public sector job in this case) that may not apply in the private sector.

Dunn was selected after an intense search and screening process that resulted in the trustees evaluating three finalists. They obviously believed that he not only was the ideal candidate for the position, but that he would be on board for the long haul.

His predecessor, Dr. Cynthia Anderson, who had served YSU for 40 years in various capacities, left at the end of her three-year contract. Her departure came as somewhat of a surprise.

Dunn had not indicated in any fashion that he would move the minute something better came along. He says he did not apply for the SIU presidency and only began thinking about it seriously after the consultant hired by that university approached him a second time.

If he resisted the headhunter’s approaches as he says, he was sensitive to simply “doing the right thing.” He must have realized that looking at a new job after only two months in the current one — where he was well liked, needed and seemingly effective — was not the professional or right thing to do.

Employment demands

Even if this were an opportunity of a lifetime — Dr. Garg used the words “unique opportunity” — the fact remains that YSU’s trustees spent more than $100,000 on the search and chose him over others because they believed he was the right fit for YSU.

His signing of a three-year contract sent an unambiguous message to the region: I intend to be around for at least that long.

As we see it, Dunn has put his personal interests ahead of the interests of Youngstown State University and the Mahoning Valley. And by not having the decency to give the trustees fair warning, he has broken faith with all those who put their trust in him.

We would suggest that rather than spend the next four-plus months looking for a new president, the trustees should instruct the consultant who brought Dunn to their attention to fast-track the new search.

The sooner he is sent packing, the better for the university and this region.

The upheaval caused by Randy Dunn’s sudden resignation cannot be minimized. Youngstown State’s budget has an $8 million hole that must be filled quickly, which means major cuts in spending are inevitable. The clock is ticking.


1kurtw(914 comments)posted 9 months ago

Why doesn't your editorial pin the blame where it belongs instead of wasting printers ink and the readers patience with a lot of obfuscation?

The real villains are the "smart people" of the BOT who hired the guy even though there should have been plenty of warning that he was a lemon. It was all there in his record: the "job-hopping" and the fact he was being let go by Murray State for not "significantly increasing enrollment and academic standards" after six years- and, of course, that's the reason YSU hired him- to "increase enrollment and academic standards". How Bizarre is that? It's like hiring somebody with a conviction record for arson to run your fire protection program. It makes no sense to me. It took me exactly 15 minutes on-line to figure out the guy was a dud- based on his credentials- but maybe the Board members liked his smile?

P.S. The Vindy could do a real service to the community by encouraging the BOT to hire somebody with real ties to Y.S.U. and the community and not another Carpetbagger. How about somebody like Cynthia Anderson? Also, question why somebody needs to get paid almost a half a million yearly to run a small organization like YSU. Doesn't it seem a bit excessive?

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2kurtw(914 comments)posted 9 months ago

"Fond Farewell?" Hell, I'd like to see him "tared and feathered" and ridden out on a rail! I still can't get over what a bunch of "Ass Kissers" Dr. G. and the other Board members are: "We wish Randy and Rhonda the best, etc. etc." When I read that, it made me want to puke!

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3dmacker(315 comments)posted 9 months ago

That all may be true but the officials at YSU have never passed on a chance to party on our dime.
Let the celebration begin.......

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4Seriouslee(116 comments)posted 9 months ago

Instead of the tagline "Dunn's departure makes bosses look incompetent and ridiculous" how about "Dunn's departure REVEALS bosses incompetence and ridiculousness"

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5NoBS(1982 comments)posted 9 months ago

I don't think it's out of line to make Dunn pay for the cost of the next search for a president of the university. Maybe that could be written into future contracts for these people.

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6jeratboy(127 comments)posted 9 months ago

I heard he wanted to get rid of the open access part. Is that true? YSU will always be low ranked until they do,

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7Attis(908 comments)posted 9 months ago

Getting screwed in this fiasco brought on Gargoyle and Done is the Ohio taxpayer. While Done is laughing all the way to the bank (and SIU), Gargoyle and his totally incompetent crew of totally untrustworthy trustees continue to squander taxpayer money. What is needed is not only a regime change at YSU, but a systemic one. Members of the BOT, like members of a Board of Education, need to be elected by We The People and not appointed by corrupt politicians.

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8Millerh113(135 comments)posted 9 months ago

Goodbye, farewell and amen, Mr. Dunn. And don't do us any favors by sticking around for another six months as a constant reminder of your duplicity. If you have a shred of decency, move on with all deliberate speed. Your constituency in Carbondale await your arrival.

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9pol26(26 comments)posted 9 months ago

Although I agree with most of this article, statements like the one below, make my blood boil.

"The continued decline in enrollment has forced the administration and trustees to reduce spending."

At least this writer did not use the words "budget cuts". I think even the employees at the Vindicator, which is 100% influenced by the higher ups and BOT at Y.S.U., realize there has been no formal plan to curtail spending. But there has not even been an informal plan, such as this sentence suggests. Probably because the so-called projected budget deficit does not exist. It cannot exist because it would be sheer negligence if budgets were not cut across the board. This administration is posturing because this is a union negotiation year plus it's time for it's annual tuition increase.

I could be wrong. In which case there will be big fat budget deficit and that will prove Y.S.U. has incompetent administrators at the helm. Maybe Dunn bailed for good reason.

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10HonestAbe(274 comments)posted 9 months ago

The Board of Trustees shares much of the blame here. In last year's search for a new president, the board chose to operate in a secretive manner. Those on the search committee included only current members of the board, one ex-administrator and one current faculty member. No students? No staff? No union representation? No deans?

After the search, the board presented 3 candidates to the campus and outside community. One candidate was embarrassingly unqualified; the other imploded during on campus interviews. Dr. Dunn was the only candidate the board could have chosen. It has also been suggested that the board did not fully inform Dr. Dunn of the university's financial situation until Dunn assumed the presidency.

For years, the board has turned a blind eye while those in power promoted friends to high and mid-level administrative positions, even if other individuals interviewing for those positions had more advanced degrees and greater, more relevant experience. Now the board wants to micromanage decisions on all new hires. Duh. A little too late.

I'm not so sure Dunn saw the handwriting on the wall and opted to save himself. I doubt Dr. Dunn will leave much of a legacy at YSU. However, I fear that the board's chronic ineptitude may do far more damage to the university and community than Dr. Dunn's decision to leave.

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11DontBanThisDrone(490 comments)posted 9 months ago

I doubt if he even cares what anyone thinks, lol.


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