The SIU Board of Trustees has called an executive session to decide if SIU System President Randy Dunn should be placed on administrative leave and replaced. The meeting will be held at 1:30 p.m. this Friday in Carbondale.
Board of Trustees Chair Amy Sholar said it was the two others members of the Executive Committee, Vice Chair Phil Gilbert and Secretary Joel Sambursky, who called for the meeting.
“First of all, we need to back up: I did not call for this meeting, and I did not set the agenda,” Sholar said. “I found out there is a procedure within the bylaws that allows two of the executive board members to call for an executive board meeting.”
The only two open items on the meeting’s announcement are whether or not to institute administrative leave of the current SIU System president and the appointment of an acting president.
The meeting comes after weeks of controversy surrounding Dunn, from allegations that he did not give SIUC enough time to consider the $5.125 million dollar reallocation plan in April, to when he called Carbondale community members “bitchers” in an email to SIUE Chancellor Randy Pembrook and SIUE Budget Director Bill Winter.
As this is an executive session, only members of the Executive Committee, which only has three members — Sholar, Sambursky and Gilbert — can vote on these issues. Sholar cannot make the meeting on such short notice, so the two members who called for the meeting to potentially remove Dunn are the only two who can vote on the issue.
Dunn was unavailable for comment this afternoon.
Sholar also said she was not aware of the meeting before it was announced.
“At roughly 11:30 [today] while I was in court, I found out about it via email. I did not set the agenda. I had no idea this was coming. It’s generally not been the practice of this board to make important and major decisions, and as such I’m not in favor of an Executive Committee meeting,” Sholar said.
Sholar was adamant that a full board meeting was the right way to go about a decision like this.
“I don’t believe that’s the proper way to govern. I think the entire board should make these decisions,” Sholar said.
SIUE Chancellor Randy Pembrook said that he thinks this meeting may not represent the entire Board of Trustees.
“The decision seems to be driven by two trustees which is very different than having the full board consider the matter,” Pembrook said.
No matter what the Board’s decision Friday, Sholar isn’t sure they have the ability to make the decision to remove or replace Dunn.
“There’s also another provision in the bylaws that discusses the fact that to hire or fire any sort of senior administrator you have to have more than a majority — so five votes is what it amounts to,” Sholar said.
The bylaw in question says “At least one-half of the total membership of the Board shall be required for the initial selection of the President or the termination of the President's services.”
However, another section of the bylaws reads “The Executive Committee functions as an instrument of the Board and shall possess all the powers of the Board when in session.”
Lucas Crater, an attorney in the office of the general counsel, was unavailable for a statement about the Board’s bylaws this afternoon.
Sholar also said that this was the first time in her three years on the board that a meeting has been called like this.
Pembrook also said that the meeting announcement read like the decision about Dunn’s fate had already been made.
“It reads like that’s what’s going to happen, as opposed to a discussion on those two items,” Pembrook said. “I would assume that since it’s personnel, anything that will occur relating to that would be in closed session.”
As of now, it seems like there will be no public commenting opportunities for this meeting.
“For something of this magnitude, you would think that the trustees, the leaders would want as much input as possible, but I’ve been told that there will be no public comments at this meeting,” Pembrook said.