With the recent announcement of Youngstown State University President Randy Dunn’s upcoming departure for Southern Illinois University, only seven months into his three-year contract, emotions have been running high on and off campus.
Catie Carney, president of YSU’s Student Government Association, said she was surprised at the announcement, but recognizes that Dunn has accomplished great things during his tenure.
“My initial reaction was shock and disappointment that Dr. Dunn would consider leaving YSU after such a short amount of time,” Carney said. “It is still a disappointment that Dr. Dunn has resigned after only seven months in office. But Dunn has done great work during his time here at YSU, and I hope he continues this work until the day he leaves the university.”
Ben Smith, a fourth year business major, voiced a similar opinion and added that he understood Dunn’s underlying intentions.
“An unfortunate situation — It’s hard to blame a man for accepting a dream job at a dream location who obviously wants him as president. The only one who truly knows the morality of his actions is President Dunn himself, so I think it’s pointless to get angry or judge,” Smith said.
Ashley Orr — president of the University Scholars — said she understood the sense of betrayal circling campus, but also reminded students to try to understand his motivations.
“I’m really surprised by his resignation, and I understand his reasoning. It could’ve been handled ahead of time. Ultimately, Dunn did a good job, and as students, we have to set aside our initial feelings of betrayal and think about what he and his family would do, kind of put ourselves in his shoes,” Orr said. “I think he was working for being a really great face to YSU. We just need to find someone who will do that again.”
John Carey, chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents, also wished Dunn the best.
“I enjoyed working with President Dunn and wish him well in his new position. As the Board of Trustees begins its search for President Dunn’s successor, Youngstown State continues to be a vital part of the university system of Ohio, and continues to play a key role in the resurgence of the region,” Carey said.
Not all community members were as understanding of Dunn’s decision, though. Tom Goldthwait, a December history and philosophy graduate of YSU, said Dunn’s decision was selfish.
“I think SIU is foolish for hiring someone who puts himself before the school he’s supposed to run,” Goldthwait said.
Pressley Bakos, senior English major, said he saw money as a primary motivation in Dunn’s departure.
“It’s just very surprising,” Bakos said. “‘Oh, we finally get you settled in? Let’s just not show up to Crash Day; let’s go accept this offer’… Whatever happened to honesty, you know, money not being that important?”
Keith Langford, a YSU alumnus, said Dunn had misled the university.
“I think it’s a shame he led the university to believe he was the right man for the job and within a year, take the same job elsewhere,” Langford said.
Scott McMurray, a YSU student, said the move was not surprising, pointing toward Dunn’s decision to apply for three other jobs during his tenure at Murray State University.
“Upon researching Dr. Dunn’s work history, it seems like he has made a habit of being unsatisfied with current jobs. I don’t think that Youngstown faithfuls should take this decision personally,” McMurray said.
Keith Lepak, a political science professor, said this decision — compounded by the impending departure of the chief financial officer, Eugene Grilli, and Ikram Khawaja, the provost — would negatively impact the university.
“He came here; he seemed to have a lot of energy. I think people were looking forward to his presidency. He obviously had a condition in his contract which technically allowed him to leave,” Lepak said. “But it is disappointing because it leaves the university sort of adrift and floating with the disappearance of the chief financial officer, as well as the imminent retirement of the provost. And that is deeply unfortunate.”