YSU hires search firm to find new president

By Denise Dick



Youngstown State University trustees agreed to hire AGB Search to conduct a national search for a new university president, but the trustee chairman says the board wouldn’t be sorry to see outgoing President Randy J. Dunn leave before his Aug. 16 resignation date.

Dunn, president since July, confirmed last week that he had accepted the presidency at Southern Illinois University and would leave YSU. AGB of Washington, D.C., led the search that found Dunn and will do the new search at no charge since Dunn resigned within a year.

Though Dunn’s resignation is Aug. 16 — the six months’ notice required by his contract — he has said he would leave earlier if the board appoints a replacement earlier.

Dr. Sudershan Garg, trustee chairman, acknowledged that there has been talk of appointing an interim president, which would allow an earlier exit for Dunn.

“We will not be unhappy if he wants to leave,” he said.

Under the university’s succession plan, though, the provost and vice president for academic affairs is second in line behind the president. That person, Ikram Khawaja, is out of the country until March 15. No. 3, according to the succession order, is the vice president of finance and administration. That position is occupied by an interim appointee since Gene Grilli left the post last week for another job.

Dr. Garg said he hasn’t spoken to Khawaja and the board hasn’t taken action to appoint an interim president. When Cynthia Anderson retired and before Dunn took office, trustees voted to install Khawaja as interim president. Trustees also could opt to appoint an interim president from outside the university if Dunn leaves early.

Dr. Garg characterized the relationship between Dunn and the board as cordial, but said the community is angry and the board is not happy.

“The way it happened should not have happened,” he said.

Trustees learned that Dunn was a candidate for another job from a report in the SIU student newspaper. Dunn has said it was a closed search.

The day after Dunn announced his departure, a campaign began to see Jim Tressel, former head football coach at both YSU and Ohio State University, named the new YSU president. Some of Tressel’s supporters have advocated his outright appointment without a search.

Tressel hasn’t said publicly whether he’s interested in the job.

“I hope Jim Tressel applies for the job,” Dr. Garg said. “He has to apply.”

He said the board hopes the search will yield a candidate by June 30.

AGB’s fee for last year’s search was $65,000. While the fee is waived this time, YSU will still be responsible for search expenses, including travel costs.

Khawaja plans to retire June 30 and a provost search is planned too.

The presidential search will be done first so the new president will have input on the new provost’s hiring. Chet Cooper, president of YSU’s Academic Senate, has been appointed to lead a 15-member search committee for the new provost.

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