The Southern Illinois University board canceled Friday’s special meeting to consider removing SIU President Randy Dunn, but it’s still expected to discuss it later this month.
The board’s three-member executive committee planned to meet Friday afternoon, with “administrative leave of president” and “appointment of acting president” on the agenda.
Board secretary Joel Sambursky called the meeting on Wednesday, after he said the board received “additional information” since its May 30 meeting.
“Last week after the SIU Board meeting in Springfield all trustees received information that in my view warrants the calling of an urgent meeting to consider placing Randy Dunn on administrative leave while a thorough investigation into his behavior is conducted by external legal counsel,” Sambursky said in a statement Thursday. He called for the board chairwoman to release those documents.
Board chairwoman Amy Sholar also issued a statement Thursday, saying no evidence had been sent to her. If there were evidence to require the board to consider removing Dunn, she said, she would call a special meeting for the full board to consider it.
Dunn told the Chicago Tribune that he didn’t request any leave, and that he wasn’t informed in advance that Friday’s meeting would be called. He couldn’t immediately be reached for further comment.
“At this point I don’t know any more information than you do,” Dunn told the Tribune on Wednesday. “I’ll be talking to my representation and seeing what I can find out beyond that. I’m trying to get some information myself on what’s planned with it.”
Sholar questioned the urgency, and said she didn’t think the executive committee could legally remove Dunn or appoint a replacement.
“I find it contrary to both the letter and spirit of our bylaws for these two trustees to attempt to remove the president unilaterally without the votes or discussion of the full board,” Sholar said, referring to Sambursky and trustee J. Phil Gilbert.
According to Sambursky, any action that the executive committee might have taken would need to eventually be approved by the full board. He said the special meeting was called with guidance from the university system’s legal counsel.
Sambursky said in his statement that the full board could be meeting again on June 21 to discuss whether to remove Dunn, though he felt it should be sooner.
A pair of state lawmakers called for Dunn’s resignation earlier in May, after an email was made public in which he referred to “bitchers from Carbondale.”
The proposal to send about $5.1 million of SIUC’s state money to SIUE was rejected by the SIU board back in April.
SIUE Chancellor Randy Pembrook has said he is concerned the conversation about how the university system distributes its state cash might not continue if Dunn is gone.
“He has been a champion of that question in a way that previous presidents have not,” Pembrook said Wednesday.
The University Staff Senate for SIUE recently issued a “vote of confidence” in Dunn.