The first of three candidates bidding to be the eighth president of Youngstown State University arrived late Wednesday in the Valley.
He won’t be introduced to the university community until Thursday, but in a private dinner-meeting Wednesday, the YSU presidential search committee interviewed Dr. Randy Dunn. He is the current president of Murray State University in Kentucky and said his experiences there and as a former State Superintendent of Education in Illinois make him the perfect candidate for the job.
“If you look kind of across the range of functionality that you need to be a president at a place like YSU, I think I bring a lot of that knowledge base and skill set to the position,” Dunn said during a one-on-one interview Wednesday evening with reporter Ryan Halicki. “It did give me a pretty wide range of experience in managing a very large, complex organization with a multi-billion dollar budget.”
That experience plays well for Dunn because YSU Board of Trustees chairman Dr. Sudershan Garg said the budget and enrollement are primary concerns.
“Money is short and it’s not going to increase. The only way we can increase finances is to increase enrollment,” Garg said.
He said the university is looking for someone who is “innovative,” can look at the finances of the university and boost enrollment, and take the university to a higher level. Garg said Murray State is similar in size to YSU and Dunn has done things there to increase enrollment that impressed the search committee.
“If we have more decrease in enrollment the next few years, we will have to downsize the university,” Garg said.
He said the university would like to attract more students from the suburbs, where graduation rates are higher, so students would not need as many remedial classes and have a higher success rate than officials have seen with students from the inner city.
“We are hiring more faculty, which is going to meet the needs of students for the next decade. Education in this country is evolving and will continue to evolve as time goes, so we want the new president to evolve as the education does,” Dr. Garg said.
Dunn comes with a plan. He is proposing more partnerships and diversity in revenue sources and establishing strong political allies in Columbus and Washington. He also sees opportunity to expand the student body.
“I think we have the opportunity to build graduate student enrollment, international student enrollment, without changing the face of what YSU is known for and that’s a great traditional undergraduate experience,” Dunn said.
Dunn also would reach out to local and regional leaders, seeking partnerships to create jobs and prosperity.
“We have the chance here for YSU to really fulfill what is the defining element of a great state university and that is to be a steward of the region that it’s within,” he said.
Dunn spent almost 15 years working in K-12 education, working as a teacher, principal and superintendent.
On Monday, the university community will be introduced to Dr. James Moran III, vice chancellor for academic and student affairs for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. And on Wednesday, they will meet Atty. William Decatur, who is currently executive vice president and CFO at Rhode Island School of Design. He previously served as senior vice president for finance and administration at Ohio University.
All three candidates are seeking to replace Dr. Cynthia Anderson, who is retiring July 1. She was the first YSU graduate and the first woman to lead the university.