CARBONDALE -- Randy Dunn will begin his tenure as SIU president May 1.

President Glenn Poshard and the SIU Board of Trustees announced Thursday that Poshard will leave the presidency a little early but remain a consultant for the university through June.

Dunn's previous posts include chairman of SIU's Department of Educational Administration and Higher Education, Illinois  schools superintendent and president of Murray State in Kentucky and Youngstown State in Ohio.

Dunn's start date was moved up from July 1 after discussions with Dunn. Poshard and the board of trustees determined an earlier start would be the best thing for the school.

"I love this university. I've spent a good deal of my life here, and I have to think in terms of what's best for the university," Poshard said at the Board of Trustees meeting at the SIU Student Center.

"Is it better that I hang on as president for another two months at the end of my career, or that we give Dr. Dunn the opportunity to start his career here early? There's no question where that balance falls."

Board Chairman Randal Thomas emphasized the position of president will not be a shared role.

"On May 1, Dr. Randy Dunn is the president of SIU," Thomas said. "Dr. Poshard is an invaluable resource, but we will have the legislature, governor, board of trustees, chancellor, staff and students recognize only one president on May 1, and that's Dr. Dunn."

Dunn will hit the ground running, with a board of trustees meeting one week after he takes office. Student fee increases will be on the table for the May 8 meeting in Edwardsville.

"A lot of the transition has been reading documents and catching up with changes in the university system," Dunn said. "I want to come in with clear thinking about what needs to be addressed right out of the gate."

Poshard won't be working out of the Stone Center president's office, but he will provide Dunn support during the transition and work with him in preparing staff evaluations.

"This past week we had the opportunity to spend a day together and charted out some ways he can be involved with us during the remaining two months he'll be at SIU," Dunn said. "Operationally, there's no one who knows more, in terms of the total enterprise, than the president who's leaving."

Poshard earned three degrees from SIU and after a successful political career including five terms in the U.S. House. The White County native was appointed in 1999 vice chancellor for administration at SIU.

He was appointed in 2004 to the SIU Board of Trustees and was later elected chairman of the board. He accepted the school's presidency in 2005.

"This is hard for me obviously," Poshard said. "I've invested more than 40 years of my life in this university and region. So I think it will be difficult for me to move on in one way, but I've served about twice as long as the average president at a university, and frankly, I'll be nearly 69-years old and it's time to move on.

"It's time for new ideas, for new changes, new blood. Dr. Dunn will do a great job, but to say it's easy to leave -- it isn't."

Poshard will continue working with the Poshard Foundation, but he plans to spend most of his time being a grandfather.

"I already have all the summer schedules for my grandchildren and soccer and baseball and everything you can imagine," Poshard said. "I'm going to trail my five grandkids around and just enjoy their lives right now.

Chris Hottensen is the entertainment and features reporter for The Southern Illinoisan.

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