After five months, 47 applicants and a two-and-a-half hour deliberation, the Youngstown State University Board of Trustees chose Randy Dunn as the next YSU president on May 10.
The search began in January with the formation of the 17-member presidential search committee, spearheaded by the Board of Trustees, and the appointment of AGB Search Inc. to help direct the national search.
The search committee included nine Board of Trustees members, two student trustees, two former trustees, a retired associate provost, two YSU alumni and one faculty member.
On May 10, the YSU Board of Trustees had a meeting to “take action upon matters pertaining to the presidential search process,” as stated in email from Ron Cole, director of university communications.
In that meeting, the Board called an executive session. Two and a half hours later, they voted unanimously to offer the presidency to Dunn, who is currently serving as the president of Murray State University in Murray, Ky.
“Kentucky’s loss is Ohio’s gain,” Sudershan Garg, chair of the Board of Trustees, said during the meeting.
Dunn said he is looking forward to working with the people and the community once he takes his position.
“The Valley is a beautiful area, and the campus looked perfect when we were there, but the way folks treated us and opened up to us was the biggest selling point,” Dunn said.
Dunn said that it was “a little presumptuous” to state big goals for the university without getting to know how it works better. He said he wants to better understand the university’s people, programs and priorities before making any large decisions.
“However, there is no doubt that early attention will be given to supporting the ongoing efforts around expanding recruitment, increasing retention and shoring up revenues,” he said.
Jay Gordon, an associate professor of English, said the university needs to get out of a rut of “mutual mistrust and poor communication.”
He stressed that the university has a three-part mission: to educate the students, advance knowledge and serve the community.
“Somehow this mission seems to get lost in this atmosphere, where neither side believes the other is smart enough, or wise enough, or honest enough, to work in good faith to achieve this mission,” Gordon said.
Chet Cooper, a professor of biological sciences, agreed with Gordon.
“We do not have really good lines of communication, as far as I’m concerned, between faculty, staff and the administration,” Cooper said. “Sometimes, we don’t even listen to students, and that’s a huge problem.”
Catie Carney, president of YSU’s Student Government Association, said that she believes SGA’s goal is to help get the student voice to the top of the administration.
“I know that there’s been tension between faculty, staff [and] administration,” Carney said. “And the problem with students: we’re kind of caught in between that because we have to adhere to both faculty, staff and administration. So if there’s a problem higher up, there’s going to be a problem with the students.”
Cooper said that he thinks Dunn has already recognized the communication problem and that he thinks Dunn will be able bring a positive change in communication.
“I will be working hard to get some level of trust restored throughout campus, because not a lot can get accomplished if it is not there,” Dunn said. “But it takes time, and people have to remember that too.
Gordon said that he is “cautiously optimistic” about Dunn being chosen as the new president and that he thinks the mutual mistrust will echo into next year.
“I am hopeful that the new president will have the leadership skills to help us move toward an atmosphere in which we all can work in good faith to help the university achieve its mission,” Gordon said.
Dunn is tentatively set to start on July 15.