Dunsworth holds open campus forum

Denny Patterson, Copy Editor/Writer/Columnist

On Tuesday, March 6, Interim President Richard Dunsworth held an open forum to faculty and students in LRTUC. The forum’s agenda included the 2012-2013 budget, the 2013-2014 budget and the updates/opinions about the search for a new Vice President of Academic Affairs/Provost and the institution’s fifteenth president.

Dunsworth started off talking about the budget for this year. He stated, “we are working diligently to get this year’s budget balanced; it’ not there yet, but close.” All four of the current vice presidents, Barry Pearson, Sarah Shupenus, Ruby Brase and Dave Brandon are working non-stop facing challenges that can cause grief with the budget.

The hot topic of the evening was about the vice president/provost position and searching for the institution’s next president.  Last semester, Vice President of Academic Affairs Barry Pearson announced he would be stepping down from the position. As of now, Pearson is the only vice president who is not an interim. Adding to the confusion and chaos, Millikin’s fourteenth president Dr.  Harold Jeffcoat resigned at the beginning of this semester.

Dunsworth said, “The Board of Trustees is looking to create a search committee for the fifteenth president. The trustees are committed to an inclusive process and hope to be transparent as possible, but they still have some questions. The board is looking to use multi-channeling, engage the Association of Governing Boards and hopes to have an interim selection by the April 5 executive committee meeting.”

Some of the questions that the board of trustees have include “who should be on the search committee,” “should there be a student’s opinion” and “how many faculty members should there be?” Questions asking what happened with Jeffcoat included, “where did we go wrong” and “why wasn’t it successful?”

Dunsworth, who joined the Millikin community in 1991, was asked to take over as interim president for 90 days. He will be leaving at the end of the year. During the forum, he offered a couple of thoughts and comments on his context of how he sees world. “You have to see the past to think about the future,” he said.

Numerous faculty and staff members believe that the institution is currently in an unstable condition due to the administrative changes.

“I never through of stability coming from someone who wears a suit or from the second floor of Shilling,” Dunsworth said. “Stability lies within the mission statement, the board of trustees, the faculty and students.”

Dunsworth detailed three choices on how to improve academic leadership here at Millikin: 1. Have four academic deans’ report directly to the president, and have a Dean of Faculty represent the whole. 2. Hire a president the same way as the interim process. 3. Appoint an interim Vice President of Academic Affairs/Provost to serve for the 18 months it will take to have the fifteenth president hired, on site, and prepared to hire the chief academic officer.

Dunsworth wants to continue to move the Millikin community forward and hope the next president can be successful from the start, and will be here for more than 3-5 years. Many who were at the forum did not seem to agree with much of the options and claims there is a lack of definition and clarification. The bottom line being the Millikin community doesn’t want to bring someone in from the outside.

“We suck at keeping people long-term,” Dunsworth said. “We’re not good at bringing the people we want to keep.”

The final question of the forum was once Dunsworth leaves, will the new interim have the authority to change everything that is currently in process. Dunsworth said, “They will have the full faith and responsibility of the board.”

A closed meeting between Dunsworth and the faculty happened immediately after. No word has been said what happened. We will continue to keep the Millikin and Decatur community informed.