Deadlocked Vote Prevents Suspension of SIU President

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Southern Illinois University President Randy Dunn survived a vote by the school's board of trustees on Thursday to place him on administrative leave.

The vote came after the board spent more than three hours in a private session discussing Dunn's future. He declined to comment after the vote.

Dunn has been criticized in recent weeks over his handling of a proposal to shift $5.1 million in state appropriations funding from the Carbondale campus to Edwardsville. He also faced calls for his resignation after an email in which he used a slur to refer to critics of the reallocation became public.

Trustees Joel Sambursky, Phil Gilbert, Marsha Ryan and Tom Britton voted to place Dunn on a 120-day administrative leave, pending investigation by an independent counsel. Trustees Amy Sholar, Shirley Portwood, Randal Thomas and SIUE Student Trustee Luke Jansen voted against it.

The vote was split along geographic lines, with those in favor of putting Dunn on leave connected to the Carbondale campus and those against connected to Edwardsville.

Gilbert said he was "offended" by Dunn's emails, which he alleged showed Dunn colluding with state Rep. Jay Hoffman and others who are in favor of dissolving the SIU system. Gilbert also said Dunn concealed from the board the possibility that their vote against reallocating funds to the Edwardsville campus would boost that legislation.

Legislation introduced to the General Assembly would separate SIU-Carbondale and SIU-Edwardsville and would establish new boards for each campus. Dunn's position and all the system leadership would be eliminated and each campus would be independent, with the medical and dental school staying in Edwardsville.

Edwardsville campus English professor and former department chairman Charles Berger told the board that firing Dunn would be a disaster for the university.

"President Dunn appears to be in danger of losing his job because he did his job," Berger said. "Advocating for fair resource allocation is what we expect of a system president."

The board also voted to release documents that may shed light on Dunn's dealings with Edwardsville officials. It is unclear when and how the documents will be released.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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