MSU's Dunn Answers Questions About Regents
By WestKyStar Staff
MURRAY, KY - The Office of the Kentucky Attorney General concluded Wednesday that the Murray State Board of Regents violated the Kentucky Open Meetings Act when a quorum of members discussed public business during a meeting that was not publicized and during which minutes were not taken.
On March 15, the Board of Regents voted to not renew President Dr. Randy Dunn's contract.
When asked for comment on the decision Wednesday, Attorney General Jack Conway's office said the opinion speaks for itself.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Dunn gave his first public on-campus reaction since that decision, saying there was a lack of communication.
At an open forum Tuesday held by the MSU Faculty Senate and Staff Congress, both of which represent university employees, Dunn directly addressed the Board of Regents Ad-Hoc Contract Review Committee’s findings.
Dunn responded piece-by-piece to the data and collective findings in the report. The committee had evalutated academic standing, enrollment data, financial management and Dunn's relationship with the Board of Regents.
Dunn said the committee "cherry-picked" data for their evaluation. The Contract Review Report highlighted Murray State’s fall in rankings between 2006 and 2012, including from lists such as Forbes “Best Buy” and Kiplinger’s “Best Values in Public Colleges.” While Dunn admitted Tuesday that national rankings have fallen, Murray State’s relative position among the Kentucky public schools has not changed.
“In these other areas, we’re having good success, getting more and more traction. And unfortunately that didn’t seem to come into play in the analysis. I share that to say it’s not that these aren’t the gold standards that everyone looks at, but there is a broader picture on institutional quality and the more you look the better we are,” Dunn said.
Enrollment numbers were another item of contention. According to Dunn, online enrollment was not factored into the Review Committee’s report, which he said increased 150.3% from 2006 to 2012. Dunn also disagreed with the committee's retention statistics, which said there was an 11.7% decline in retention between freshmen and sophomore years from 2006 to 2012. Dunn claimed that retention has only decreased 2.2% in that period.
Dunn spent a substantial amount of the forum speaking about President-Board relations. The Contract Review Report said the President’s relationship with the Board of Regents has moved from insensitivity to disrespect over the last year, cited Dunn's lack of notice about potential candidacies at the University of Tennessee and Missouri State University, and described deteriorating relationships with committee chairs.
According to Dunn, “communication has been frequent and ongoing.” He also added that “disagreement does not mean disrespect.” Dunn cited timing as explanation for his failure to inform the board about the Tennessee presidency. “That’s correct; I did not tell them ‘I’m applying.’ But at the same time there was no protocol - it was done in the midst of contract negotiations, not knowing how it came out.”
Ultimately, Dunn said he hopes Tuesday's forum served as a “fuller sharing of the record.”
When asked about the future of his contract renewal, Dunn said, “I’m also a realist and it’s very rare you see these things get turned around or changed. Obviously I’m looking at other presidencies.”
This all comes in the midst of questions about whether or not the Board of Regents violated open meetings law at a social gathering attended by several regents, just prior to their quarterly meeting in which Dunn’s contract was not renewed.