There will be a Board of Trustees meeting on Wednesday to discuss the possibility of Provost Ikram Khawaja becoming interim president and dismissing Randy Dunn before the end of his 180-day resignation period. Since he announced his resignation two weeks ago, we have felt that the sooner Dunn is gone, the better. The sooner that he leaves for Illinois, the sooner Youngstown State University can move on.
It is absolutely crucial that the process of picking a successor beyond Khawaja’s time as interim president is clear and free from bias.
The process of selecting a president at Southern Illinois University Carbondale was closed, with no one knowing who was being interviewed, discussed or considered. Some took issue with that style, saying that there was no way to compare who was selected with who applied and, therefore, no way to tell if the new president was really the best choice beyond the word of the Board.
Luckily, we didn’t have that issue last year when Dunn was selected. We knew who the eight finalists were. They came in and talked to faculty and students and shared their plans for the university. That openness needs to be here this time around as well. At a point where the school community is having a hard time trusting the powers that be, one of the best ways back to full trust is to be fully open about everything from here on out.
The biggest concern that we have is that there may be a bias, whether it is intentional or not. Jim Tressel’s name has been thrown around as a possible candidate, with Sudershan Garg, the chairman of the Board, saying that he hopes Tressel applies.
Just from saying that he hopes one person applies, people jumped to the conclusion that Tressel was the front-runner for the Board. Even if he is the leading candidate, all other candidates must be evaluated equally to ensure that the best president is chosen.
Garg has said that the finalists from last year would be considered should they apply. We hope that they, along with anyone else that applies — and they actually have to apply, there will be no “per se” applications — will be announced, evaluated and chosen along the same standards.