Former Gibson City teacher takes helm as SIU president

Former Gibson City teacher takes helm as SIU president

By The Associated Press and The News-Gazette

SPRINGFIELD — The Southern Illinois University board of trustees named a former Illinois state superintendent of education as the school's president on Monday.

Youngstown State University President Randy J. Dunn will be SIU's eighth president, replacing Glenn Poshard, who is retiring in June despite having a contract that runs to 2015.

"Randy Dunn has both the skills and the background to ensure that SIU continues to live up to its mission of providing a quality education for thousands of students, serving as an academic and economic engine and meeting the health care needs of individuals and families in central and southern Illinois," board chairman Randal Thomas said in the news release.

SIU, which has campuses in Carbondale and Edwardsville as well as medical and dental schools, will pay Dunn $430,000, according to university officials.

Dunn's appointment comes five months after the university, with the assistance of search firm R. William Funk and Associates, launched a national search for a new president. University officials say Dunn's name was one of five finalists given to the board of trustees after an advisory committee screened about 100 applicants.

Dunn was an associate professor at SIU when he left in 2004 to become Illinois' state superintendent of education. In 2006, he left that post to become president of Murray State University in Kentucky, and moved on to Youngstown State in Ohio last May.

Poshard, who served five terms in Congress and was a member of the state General Assembly before that, lost a gubernatorial race to Republican George Ryan in 1998 before serving four years as vice chancellor at SIU's Carbondale campus. He was named president in 2005.

Poshard's tenure wasn't without controversy.

He came under fire in 2007 for a 1984 doctoral dissertation, which critics claim was partly plagiarized and demanded his resignation. However, a seven-member review panel determined the dissertation included "inadvertent or unintended" plagiarism that could be easily remedied without costing him his job.

Poshard also was criticized in 2009 for a university contract that some said was given improperly to his son's marketing agency. The contract involved a regional initiative to bring broadband to southern Illinois. The university's general counsel investigated the dealings and found nothing out of order.

A familiar face

Bio bits of local interest about Randy Dunn:

1 His first job out of college was teaching fourth-grade reading at Gibson City Elementary School. Dunn spent four years at the Ford County school, leaving in 1983 for a principal's gig in Paw Paw.

2 His first administrative job over a school district came in 1989, when he was named superintendent of Argenta-Oreana Unit 1. Dunn left in 1991 for a similar opportunity with the Chester school district.

3 He earned his doctorate in educational administration from the University of Illinois in 1991. Dunn is one of several ex-Illini with the title of university president, joining Eastern Illinois' Bill Perry (earned his master's and Ph.D. from the UI) and Illinois Tech's John Anderson (Ph.D.), among others.

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