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SIU taps former Blago aide as new president; Dr. Randy Dunn was ex-governor's state superintendent

Dr. Randi Dunn, state school superintendent under Governor Rod Blagojevich, was selected Monday afternoon by the Southern Illinois University board as the school?s new president.
February 17, 2014 6:01:27 PM PST
Southern Illinois University has a new president Monday night and the ABC7 I-Team has learned that he is the one-time top education aide to Governor Rod Blagojevich.

Dr. Randy Dunn was selected Monday afternoon by the SUI board.

In one of his first moves as governor, Rod Blagojevich picked apart the Illinois Board of Education in 2004, personally tapping Southern Illinois professor Randy Dunn to become state school superintendent. Dunn's first move as state superintendent was to hire two top employees sent over from the governor's office.

That beginning to his tenure under Blagojevich was met with suspicion by some who saw it as an early indication of the command and control that the governor would demand. Now years later and after college jobs in Kentucky and Ohio, Dr. Dunn is returning to Illinois.

Dunn was an early poster child for Blagojevich's strategy of surrounding himself with strong, talented professionals.

Blagojevich plucked Dunn from his academic perch at Southern Illinois University in 2005 and then the governor had his hand-picked state board of education anoint Dunn as Illinois School Superintendent.

Dunn was also president of the Illinois teachers' retirement system in the mid-decade, an agency that became a flashpoint during the Blagojevich corruption era. Dr. Dunn was not publicly drawn into the controversy and ended up leaving the agency unscathed in late 2006 to become president of Murray State University in Kentucky.

His college management star rising, Dunn was hired as president at Youngstown State in Ohio last summer.

Then, after only seven months on the job there, Monday he took the job as president of the Southern Illinois University system.

The Southern Illinois board had been seeking a replacement for the retiring Glenn Poshard. Even though the board had set an April deadline for choosing Poshard's successor, they voted unanimously Monday to hire Dunn at an annual salary of $430,000 per year.

Dr. Dunn was making $375,000 a year at Youngstown State where he is now being referred to as the LeBron James of Ohio colleges, at least on some social media.

Dunn's new three year contract at Youngstown did give him an out but he was supposed to provide 180 days' notice to the board. Many board members found out he was leaving from news reports, including yesterday's I-Team post on Twitter.


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