YSU:Dunn is done

YOUNGSTOWN – Youngstown State University trustees announced Wednesday evening that president Randy Dunn will vacate his position on March 21, five months earlier than originally expected.

The trustees’ decision came following an executive session which took more than two hours.

Dunn announced two weeks ago he was leaving YSU after just seven months to assume the president position at Southern Illinois University.

Initially, Dunn’s three-year contract called for him to stay on as president until Aug. 16 in order to fulfill his required 180-day notice of resignation, but YSU Board of Trustees chairman Dr. Sudershan Garg said the university was ready to move on.

“We want to put this behind us,” Garg said after Wednesday night’s executive session. “This was the best approach the board thought would be appropriate at this stage.”

Garg called the parting negotiations between YSU and Dunn “amicable.”

Dunn will be paid until he leaves his position on March 21.

“That way, the university will save almost five months off his salary if he had stayed until Aug. 16,” Garg said.

Dunn is also eligible to receive payment on unused vacation time, officials said.

Now YSU is beginning the search for what will for its third president in 13 months.

In the meantime, Dr. Ikram Khawaja will serve as interim president following Dunn’s departure, and will remain until June 30, when he plans to retire. Khawaja has served on the YSU faculty for 45 years.

“Hopefully we will have a president by that time,” Garg said. “If not, we will look for an interim president.”

The terms of Khawaja’s contract as interim president – including payment – were not disclosed by trustees.

Much of the discussion following Dunn’s announcement has centered around hiring former YSU and Ohio State University football coach Jim Tressel as the new president. Tressel is an executive vice president at the University of Akron.

Garg said the board would be pleased if Tressel applied for the job.

“(Tressel) could be a good president for YSU,” Garg said.

Trustees will also enlist the help of Washington, D.C.-based AGB Search to help create a profile and conduct a thorough national search for the best possible candidates.

Garg expressed his frustration at being thrown back into a search so soon after hiring Dunn, but said YSU must continue moving forward.

“Any time there is sudden change, it is always frustrating,” Garg said. “But we have to deal with it in a very cool and calm fashion.”

At SIU, Dunn will be paid $430,000 – a $55,000 increase from his current salary at YSU, which also included benefits such as a vehicle, professional dues, travel, entertainment and relocation expenses.

Dunn is the former president of Murray State University. Prior to that, he was associate professor of education and education department chair at SIU. His wife, Rhonda, also attended SIU.