YOUNGSTOWN - Youngs-town State University will be looking for its third president in 13 months.
President Randy Dunn, who succeeded former president Cynthia Anderson seven months ago, has agreed to become the new president of Southern Illinois University. In a meeting with the YSU Board of Trustees Monday evening, Dunn resigned his current position effective Aug. 16.
Dunn, who took the helm at YSU in July, had signed a three-year contract with YSU. The board met with Dunn on Monday for more than two- and-a-half hours.
At a news conference afterward, Dunn said the decision to leave YSU so quickly was not an easy one, but it was what he described as a "unique" opportunity.
"I understand that some may feel a sense of betrayal, but I have to point out that this was a unique opportunity and the decision (to leave YSU) was not made lightly," he said.
YSU board president Dr. Sudershan Garg said trustees were not made aware of Dunn's intention to vacate his new position and were "very unhappy" to hear the news.
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. He and his family reside in the Pollock House on Wick Avenue, another perk of being president of YSU.
Dunn's start date at SIU has not yet been announced, but the contract for SIU's current president, Glenn Poshard, will expire June 30.
Under Dunn's contract with YSU, he is required to give the university 180 days advanced written notice of his resignation. Dunn said that he intends to remain with the university for the full 180 days, but the YSU Board of Trustees will retain the right to allow him to leave at any point without further compensation.
"I feel that I have not breeched my agreement with the university, as I have given them notice," Dunn said. "If the board was to tell me tomorrow that my obligation to them is fulfilled, I will step aside without any financial compensation. The board only owes me (compensation) for days worked."
Garg said the board currently intends to keep Dunn for the duration of his term, citing the need for leadership during the transition period.
"It is going to take four to six months to find a replacement," Garg said. "Without someone to head the university during that time, it will make it difficult to function."
Dunn said SIU operates its searches under strict confidentiality, and that he was obligated to respect their wishes as it pertained to his involvement with the position.
"It was a judgment call (to not alert YSU of his involvement)," Dunn said, adding that he never officially "applied" for the position. "That is how SIU handled its last three president searches, and I wanted to respect that."
The YSU board will now have to begin another exhaustive search process, which in the past has involved committees and professional consultants.
"Obviously, this is not a good reflection on the university," Garg said, of Dunn's decision to abruptly leave. "But we felt that we found the right candidate when we hired (Dunn), and I believe it shows that he has been stolen away (by) another university."
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.