September 20, 2004

Dunn 'well-prepared' for state superintendent job

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. - - Randy J. Dunn, chair of the Department of Educational Administration and Higher Education at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, is well prepared for his new role as interim state superintendent of education.

Dunn's background as a public school administrator, superintendent, professor and department chair will serve the state well, said R. Keith Hillkirk, dean of SIUC's College of Education and Human Resources. Dunn's experience is "very valuable right now in education," said Hillkirk.The Illinois State Board of Education appointed Dunn, who is from Chester, to the post during a meeting today (Sept. 20). He was the choice of Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich.

"Policymakers and educators are recognizing the need for as much seamlessness as possible from pre-school through graduate school. So the fact that Dr. Dunn has the breadth of experience and understanding of education from both a public school and higher education perspective will be invaluable in his new role," Hillkirk said.

Dunn joined SIUC's faculty as an associate professor in 1995 and became a professor in April 2003. He became chair of the Department of Educational Administration and Higher Education in July 2000.

Dunn is "well-known and respected throughout the state," Hillkirk said, adding that Dunn's selection also reflects positively on the University.

"I think that it is very positive for SIUC to have one of its administrators and professors be selected," Hillkirk said. "It's a nice personal honor and recognition for him but it's certainly positive for the University to have one of their own chosen."

Before coming to SIUC, Dunn was an assistant professor in the department of educational leadership at the University of Memphis.

He began his career as an elementary school teacher in Gibson City from 1980 to 1983. Dunn then served a year as grade school principal in the Paw Paw district before becoming principal at the Roanake-Benson district middle school, where he served until 1989. He served as superintendent of the Argenta-Oreana School District from 1989 to 1991, then served as superintendent of the Chester Community School District from 1991 to 1994.

"As a colleague, I believe Randy is well-prepared to assume the position and provide the kind of leadership the governor is expecting," said Norma J. Ewing, associate dean for academic and student affairs in the College of Education and Human Resources. "I think it is an excellent choice given his training, experience and strong commitment to the field of education."

Dunn earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education with an emphasis on reading education from Illinois State University in 1980. He earned his master's degree from ISU in educational administration and foundations in 1983, and a doctorate in educational administration from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1991.

Dunn is currently on leave from his duties at SIUC. Hillkirk will meet with faculty to determine how to continue the ongoing work of the department and the college.

Supporting and fostering faculty excellence is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.