YOUNGSTOWN - New university president Randy Dunn was welcomed by the Youngstown State University Board of Trustees after signing his contract just prior to their regular Wednesday meeting.
Dunn, currently president of Murray State University, was chosen unanimously in May to take the place of retiring Dr. Cynthia Anderson.
His contract is for three years beginning on July 15 with an annual base compensation of $375,000.
Dunn said the main elements to focus on will be enrollment, stabilizing revenue, and regional outreach - all things he said he worked on at Murray State.
"As I come to Youngstown State, I really do think - I don't want to sound cocky about this - but I do really think that I'm going to be able to hit the ground running to be able to move forward with a number of the things that we're trying to address right now," he said.
While acknowledging that progressing students through their degree is the core of the university's work, he revealed his intentions remove the confines of a superficial campus border in efforts to create a symbiosis between the institute and the surrounding community.
"The challenge becomes for any president - what's the driver behind the actions and why is it that you're doing what you're doing, and what you want to see is that it's because of an affection, a love for a place and trying to move it forward," he said.
According to Dunn, the "defining element" for a great regional campuses is this ability for the region and the university to come together and grow from one another. "The great engine of a university" is able to economically build, nurture and support the region, while keeping its gaze on education.
"One of the things that Youngstown State shares with the institute I'm coming from in Kentucky is this high value that is placed on providing an education that's of high value at a very reasonable price," he said.
At the meeting, the board also approved a $177.2 million budget for the 2014 school year along with a $94 increase in tuition rates to $3,950 per semester for in-state students.Out-of-state students will pay $6,950 per semester and students in qualifying counties of Western Pennsylvania will be able to attend for $4,070 per semester.
"With the level we're looking at for next year, I don't think we're violating that principle," Dunn said of the increase.
The budget and the university's comprehensive strategic plan, along with his past experience, he hopes will create a seamless transition. Dunn said he will be working with the board to determine a work plan of sorts to determine which parts of the plan to address first.
"When you come in and you try to do a hundred things, you end up doing nothing," he said.
Anderson said in talking with Dunn that she believes his personality and appreciation of the university's strategic plan will help the transition.
"He's going to do a wonderful job," said Anderson. "If he needs anything, he's got my cell phone number."
Dunn previously was state superintendent of education for the state of Illinois; an associate professor, professor and department chair of educational administration and higher education at Southern Illinois University; and assistant professor of leadership at the University of Memphis, according to YSU.
He and his wife Rhonda Dunn will be moving into the Pollock House on Wick Avenue approximately one week prior to beginning his job.