Board of Trustees Chair Amy Sholar has declared that the Executive Committee of the Board does not have the ability to put SIU System President Randy Dunn on administrative leave and appoint an acting president.
“I’ve reviewed the bylaws for the SIU Board of Trustees and, under these circumstances, I am not convinced the executive committee has the authority to remove President Dunn or appoint anyone as a replacement,” Sholar said in a press release. “Also, I do not believe that the matter is so urgent that an executive committee meeting is permissible for the purposes stated by these trustees.”
The meeting, originally planned for tomorrow afternoon in Carbondale, was only scheduled yesterday, and Sholar was not made aware of it until she received an email saying it was happening yesterday morning. Vice Chair Phil Gilbert and Secretary Joel Sambursky — the only other two members of the Executive Committee — called for the meeting without informing Sholar. They would also be the only ones voting on whether or not to replace the head of the SIU System.
“[I]t is my decision as Chair that the bylaws do not permit the executive committee to take the proposed actions for the reasons stated, and if a meeting is held and a vote taken any such action would be invalid,” Sholar said.
This is just the most recent controversy Dunn has been at the center of. He was a driving force behind bringing April’s reallocation proposal to the board. It was later revealed that Dunn called some members of the Carbondale campus “bitchers” in an email before the issue was brought to the board. Additionally, Dunn was accused of hiding the information from SIUC’s chancellor, something he denied at a press conference he held to apologize for his language.
SIUE Chancellor Randy Pembrook said the question of whether or not Dunn should be removed should be open to more voices.
“The question of whether to consider replacing a System President is of such a magnitude of importance to the students, faculty and staff as well as the university communities involved that a thorough discussion involving all Trustees must occur. To proceed with fewer voices would do a disservice to those who selected President Dunn for the office,” Pembrook said.
The SIUE Staff Senate wrote an open letter about the issue today, saying they believed Dunn was not casting aside Carbondale in favor of Edwardsville
“We reject the proposition that Dr. Dunn is favoring the SIUE campus at the expense of SIUC. For these reasons, the University Staff Senate of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville registers this vote of confidence for the President of the Southern Illinois System, Dr. Randy Dunn,” the letter said.
In her press release, Sholar called Sambursky and Gilbert’s meeting a “power play” that is further dividing the campuses.
“It truly baffles me that these two trustees, both representing the Carbondale campus, would attempt to exclude the full Board from participating in this important issue after we approved a policy just last week that we would advocate for keeping the SIU system together,” Sholar said. “The power play by these two trustees is not only improper but also serves to further drive a wedge between our campuses at a time when all of us should be working together to ease tensions.”
SIUC's the Daily Egyptian reports Trustees J. Phil Gilbert and Joel Sambursky are not making statements at this time, according to board secretary Misty Whittington.