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In a Wednesday teleconference with The Southern Illinoisan's editorial board, SIU President-designate Randy J. Dunn discussed his plans for the university.

Dunn, who plans to begin July 1, also discussed his  his prior connections to SIU, a university trustee, enrollment and other topics.

Asked about previous interactions with Board of Trustees Vice-Chair Donna Manering, Dunn said he served on her dissertation committee in 2000.

Dunn came to SIU in 1995 and was the chairman of the Department of Education Administration and Higher Education from 2000 to 2004.

"We knew each other professionally," Dunn said. "We certainly did not have any personal relationship where our families knew one another or anything like that. "I have a lot of respect for her."

Dunn said that when a situation arises when someone comes back to an institution where he or she spent a good portion of their career, it is not unusual to have at least one person with some prior experience with the candidate.

Citing a previous statement by Board Chairman Randal Thomas, Dunn said, "As I watched this play out, with the number of people involved in the search committee and people from broad backgrounds, the idea that one person could somehow co-opt a search process and get their person in is pretty ludicrous."

Dunn said he had no communication with Manering prior to his candidate interview on Feb. 12.

Discussing SIU's future, Dunn said he would like to help develop three broad themes -- regional empowerment, pursuit of innovation and increasing operational efficiency.

"These will have to be shaped by our constituencies and certainly will have to be endorsed by the board," Dunn said. "They make take a different approach or a different slant, but hopefully this is mirroring some of the conversations (with the board) that I've had at this point."

Dunn also expressed his thoughts on declining enrollment at Carbondale campus, where fall enrollment dropped for the ninth straight year in 2013.

"One of the things the Carbondale campus must do is, once again, become the regional institution for Southern Illinois," Dunn said. "We are going to compete with them (SIU's competitors) and the students are coming back," Dunn said. "The game is on."

Although the board has yet to set an official start date for Dunn, it is expected to do so at its April 17 meeting.

Dunn said he and his wife, Ronda, hope to be  be settled in the area around Easter weekend, which is April 19 and 20. He still expects to take take office at SIU on July 1, the day Glenn Poshard's retirement from the presidency begins.

"We have to vacate out here (at Youngstown State University) by April 20 at the latest," Dunn said. "We've got a deal on a house (in Southern Illinois), so we're trying to get coordinated with movers."

Dunn said he will certainly make himself available to the university and the board as needed. However, he added he and Poshard have both been in education for quite a while and both well understand there can be only one president for a university system at any given moment.

Dunn added he and his wife are thrilled to be coming to back to Southern Illinois and expect to retire here.


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