The Southern Illinois University board of trustees will try again to vote on suspending President Randy Dunn in the midst of calls to separate the SIU campuses in Carbondale and Edwardsville.
A special board meeting has been called for June 21, which will take place in the multipurpose room of the Evergreen Hall dorm at SIUE. In addition to routine contracts and purchases, the agenda includes an executive session, followed by consideration of “releasing documents provided trustees related to recent Freedom of Information Act requests,” and of administrative leave for Dunn and appointment of an acting president.
Trustees J. Phil Gilbert and Joel Sambursky had called an emergency meeting in early June to vote on putting Dunn on administrative leave, a week after the last meeting of the full board concluded without taking action against the university president. In their public statement, they alleged that “new information” had come to light since the last full board meeting.
But board president Amy Sholar declared that she did not believe that meeting, which would have consisted only of the three members of the executive committee, had the legal authority to remove Dunn. The meeting was then canceled.
Dunn has been under fire after an email was made public in which he referenced “bitchers from Carbondale,” referring to people opposed to discussing a shift of funding from Carbondale to Edwardsville.
Dunn apologized for his choice of words but said he did not apologize for bringing to light the issue of funding disparity between the SIUC and SIUE campuses. State funding is currently divided about 64 to 36 percent in favor of Carbondale, but SIUC’s enrollment has dropped, while SIUE’s has grown. The Edwardsville campus is expected to exceed Carbondale’s enrollment this fall.
In April, the board of trustees voted down a proposal to divide funding 60-40 between the campuses. This led to a series of bills in the state legislature to divide the campuses into two universities, to equally divide the funding and to create an independent study of the best way to allocate funding.
In May, the board voted not to support any of those proposals.