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The search is over for Youngstown State University’s next president.
On Friday evening, the YSU Board of Trustees voted to hire Randy Dunn to replace the retiring Cynthia Anderson. Trustees spent just under three hours in executive session weighing the pros and cons of the three presidential candidates.
And in the end they chose Dunn, who is currently the president of Murray State University in Kentucky.
“He had a very clear vision. He has lots of experience having served at Murray State for the past six years and I think he will do a fantastic job here,” said YSU Board of Trustees President Dr. Sudershan Garg.
The board authorized Garg and vice chair John Jakubek to negotiate an employment contract with Dunn. Garg said the appointment is not final until a contract is reached.
Last week when he was in Youngstown visiting the campus, Dunn talked about his plans to continue working with the ever-developing downtown district.
“We have the chance here for YSU to really fulfill what is the defining elements of a great state university and that is to be a steward of that region that is within,” Dunn said.
It’s an idea wholeheartedly supported by the Board of Trustees.
“Our students from YSU can go to downtown Youngstown and work with businesses and develop successful relationships,” Garg said.
Board members were asked if they were concerned at all about Murray State not renewing Dunn’s current contract. They said he’s had success boosting Murray State’s enrollment, and they’re confident he can do the same for YSU.
“His contract was not renewed but he was not fired. There can always be differences of opinion between the board and the president and if the board did not extend the contract, it doesn’t mean the guy failed,” Garg said.
Current president Cynthia Anderson, the first woman, first Valley native and first YSU alum to become president, will retire July 1 after three years in the position and 40 years with the school.
If Dunn accepts the board’s offer, he’s expected to take over around July 15.
Trustees had narrowed the list of candidates to three from eight chosen by a national search firm.
The other candidates that were considered were William Decatur, an attorney who once served as the University of Toledo’s interim president, and James Moran III, a former president of Edinboro University.
In an interview last week, Dunn said his experience as president at Murray State University in Kentucky and as a former State Superintendent of Education in Illinois made 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 that interview. “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 must have played well for Dunn because Garg said prior to Dunn’s formal interview last week that the budget and enrollment were primary concerns.
Garg had said the university was looking for someone “innovative,” who could 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.
Dunn also 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 during the interview last week.
Dunn spent almost 15 years working in K-12 education, working as a teacher, principal and superintendent.