Documents published today by the Southern Illinoisan newspaper have sparked calls for the immediate resignation of Randy Dunn, president of Southern Illinois University. For weeks, lawmakers have been mulling a package of bills — one of which would boost funding to the Edwardsville campus, another would split the two campuses entirely, and the third would reconstitute SIU's Board of Trustees. The documents published today suggest that Dunn may have withheld information from the Carbondale campus chancellor in an effort to funnel more than $5 million in state funds to the Edwardsville campus and split SIU into two separate schools.
State Rep. Terri Bryant, a Republican from Murphysboro, made an impassioned speech on the House floor, reciting excerpts from the published documents.
"The president of Southern Illinois University was quoted as having said that he was doing something to split the SIU campus to ‘shut up the bitches from Carbondale,’ " Bryant said.
The document she cited was an email that actually used the word “bitchers,” not bitches. Bryant concluded her speech by calling for Dunn's immediate resignation.
Rep. Chad Hays, an SIU alum who has two sons at SIU-C, then echoed her outrage, also using strong language.
"I join Rep. Bryant in asking for his resignation,” Hays said, “and on behalf of all Salukis, you go to hell, sir."
Carbondale Chancellor Carlo Montemagno issued a statement saying he was "dismayed and disappointed" by Dunn's efforts to “undermine... the SIU system.”
Later in the day, Dunn issued a statement apologizing for some of his language, but denying that he withheld information from Montemagno. Dunn says he acted with the best interests of SIU in mind.
“Why would I advocate to eliminate the SIU System which would eliminate the capstone job that the Board of Trustees asked me to come home for?” he wrote. “If I want to leave SIU, I’ll resign or retire; it would be ridiculous to make up some elaborate plan to blow up the system as I leave. I love SIU too much to do that.”
This story has been updated to correct the proportion of state funding. One legislative proposal would split state funding evenly between Carbondale and Edwardsville. In the past, Carbondale has received about 60 percent of state funds. Our original story said the bill would give Edwardsville 60 percent of the funds. We regret the error.