Uncertainty Surrounds Murray State's Budget and President Ahead of Meeting Next Week
Uncertainty has shrouded Murray State University during the last six months as ongoing questions surround the future of the president‘s contract and the university’s budget. In August Murray State’s Board of Regents charged President Randy Dunn to conduct a full review of the University’s budget in attempt to find cuts, efficiencies and new revenue. All the while, Dunn has been pressing the board of regents to extend his contract, which expires in 2014. The board is required to take action by June 2013, but could do so at any time. In the meantime Dunn has said that he will continue to seek “exceptional “ career opportunities available to him until the board decides to take action on his contract.
Conceivably, if Dunn lands a new position the University could be in the middle of a search for a new president while implementing cuts of up to $5.1M and building new revenue streams of up to $1.1M. A dozen teams made up of more than 150 university faculty and staff came up with a much larger list of suggested cuts, which Dunn winnowed down to 80. The full list of proposed cuts is available on Dunn’s website. Dunn will host two public forums on the budget review process next week, Tuesday, March 12 at 2 p.m. and Wednesday, March 13 at 9 a.m. – both in the Curris Center’s Barkley Room. The Murray State Board of Regents finance committee will meet Thursday, March 14th in Pogue library to discuss the President’s recommendations. The Board isn't expected to act on the recommendations prior to their May meeting.
To compound the uncertainty surrounding the budget, the Board of Regents plans to enter executive session during their quarterly meeting Friday, March 15thto discuss an ongoing ad hoc committee review of Dunn’s contract. Board Chairman and former MSU president, Dr. Constantine (Deno) Curris, formed the committee at the board’s December meeting. The committee held one open meeting last month in Louisville, where Curris and the two other members, Steve Williams and Marilyn Buchanon, laid out the model they’ll use to assess whether or not they recommend extending Dunn’s contract. Friday’s meeting is planned for closed session, according to previous board meeting minutes, and has been subject to some scrutiny by Dunn and the Murray State News. Numerous media outlets have used a Kentucky Attorney General’s opinion as cause for requesting the meeting be public, because the meeting isn’t for the purpose of hiring or firing an employee, but rather to discuss the extension of a contract. Dunn says he isn’t asking for any changes or bonuses in his contract, just an extension.
Meanwhile, Dunn has followed through with his statement of seeking exceptional career opportunities. He was a finalist for Missouri State University’s presidency, but withdrew his candidacy at the last minute. He was also a finalist to be Florida’s Education Commissioner. Now, with Northern Illinois University searching for a new president there is speculation Dunn may be among the finalists for the position. Dunn is an Illinois native and was the state superintendent of schools prior to becoming Murray State's President. Dunn hasn’t responded to a request for comment regarding such an application. NIU board members are meeting with the last of the 10 finalists today and will narrow the field to four. NIU officials haven't said whether they will make the top four finalists public.