Letters to the Editor

SIU trustee responds to claim that board can’t remove president in emergency meeting

Editor’s note: This is a statement in response to SIU board chairwoman Amy Sholar’s statement.

By Joel W. Sambursky

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. Should the executive committee decide to do so, an acting President would then need to be appointed to allow for the work of the campuses to continue while President Dunn is on leave.

To be clear, the intention of the executive committee meeting was never to permanently replace President Dunn, as falsely expressed by Chair Sholar and others. That is not within the authority of the executive committee. It’s important to also understand that during executive committee meetings all trustees have the right to attend and participate, and any action that is taken by the executive committee is eventually ratified by the full board at a future meeting.

The executive committee meeting was called according to Board policy, with the guidance of the General Council of the University, after Chair Sholar, who is in receipt of the same concerning information that all Trustees have, decided to cancel the July board meeting with no notice or input from members of the executive committee. Chair Sholar did not even attempt to reschedule the July meeting and was instead content with waiting until September to meet as a full board. After Chair Sholar released her statement yesterday, the General Council of the University reaffirmed with me the legal authority for the executive committee meeting to take place and potentially take action on the items listed on its agenda.

With the next SIU Board meeting now more than three months away, it would be unconscionable for the executive committee to not meet to discuss and potentially take action on matters that are permitted under SIU Board policy, since they are “urgent and cannot be postponed to a regular meeting of the Board”.

Apparently Chair Sholar not only disagrees with my view of the Bylaws, but also that of the General Council of the SIU System. This sets the wrong precedent for the Chair of the Board to claim the ability to override the majority of the executive committee and to ignore the legal opinion provided by the General Council of the SIU System.

I was glad to find out late yesterday that now Chair Sholar is willing to convene the full board to discuss the items on the executive committee agenda that was planned for today. However, I am disappointed that she believes the meeting can be delayed another two weeks until June 21st.

Therefore, I requested the executive committee meeting to be canceled and I am asking Chair Sholar to call a special meeting of the full Board to discuss and possibly take action on the same items that were listed on today’s executive committee agenda. I am also asking Chair Sholar to make every effort to convene the full Board as soon as possible.

Back in May, Chair Sholar wrote an open letter to the SIU System stating that “as I accepted this responsibility (as Chair of the SIU Board), I was determined to serve in this capacity as I have conducted myself in all my personal and professional activities — promoting equality, honest leadership, transparency and fairness”. With such transparency in mind, I would also request, given her questioning of the motives of the executive committee, that Chair Sholar allow the immediate release of all documents that the Board has received and that I have referenced as the basis for the calling of the executive committee meeting.

Finally, let me say that this has led Chair Sholar to question my intentions, and it was upsetting that in her statement she wrote that Judge Gilbert and I both represent the Carbondale campus. It has been the honor of my life to serve on this Board representing all parts of the SIU System. Since my playing days as a Saluki concluded, it has been enjoyable learning about all of the extraordinary components that comprises the SIU System. Gaining this understanding has given me even more pride in representing the SIU System and I will do everything in my ability as long as I serve on this Board to protect and advance the SIU System.