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Dunn receives high marks from trustees in first evaluation

Dec. 12, 2008

KALAMAZOO--In his first formal evaluation as president of Western Michigan University, Dr. John M. Dunn was lauded for leadership, accessibility and a successful "nuts and bolts" approach to addressing multi-year enrollment and budget challenges, even in the face of statewide economic decline.

WMU Board of Trustees Chair Ken Miller delivered the board's assessment at its Dec. 12 meeting. It is the first such effort since Dunn became WMU's eighth president in July 2007. Miller noted the evaluation included individual input from each of the board members as well as collective discussion by the board. Following his remarks, Miller recommended and the board approved a 3 percent increase to Dunn's base salary. Dunn responded by noting his intent to donate the entire amount of the increase--just over $10,000--to a student scholarship fund.

Miller said in completing the evaluation, the board relied on evaluation materials suggested by the American Association of Governing Boards, which recommends leaders be assessed on leadership, fiscal management, vision, mission, strategic planning, staff/employee relations, trustee relations, community relations, external relations, fundraising and general communication.

"It is the considered and unanimous opinion of this board that your performance as our president in these essential matters can be summed up in one word--and that is 'excellent.' And I would put that in all caps," Miller said to Dunn. "While I speak specifically for this University's Board of Trustees, I am confident that I also represent the thoughts of many members of our University community and this community in its entirety."

Miller noted a number of Dunn's accomplishments that played a role in the board's assessment. They included achieving the first balanced budget in six years, reversing downward enrollment and retention numbers, and significantly increasing the number of incoming freshmen. He also, Miller said, successfully negotiated a new faculty contract; diversified the student body makeup with special assistance to veterans and former foster-care youth; increased community interest in the University; assisted in the successful growth of the athletic program; provided stability; and earned the respect of faculty, staff, students and the board.

"Western continues to benefit from your leadership and it is in the best interest of WMU to maintain the momentum you have started and the continuity you have created," Miller told Dunn.

Miller also thanked Linda Dunn for representing the University as what he called "our principal ambassador."

Dunn thanked the board and, in explaining the decision to donate the raise, noted he and his wife have a longtime commitment to supporting students.

"It's always been our commitment and our dream to support students in any way we can," Dunn said. "This will assist us in contributing to what we've already established here."

The president said he was humbled by the glowing evaluation and said he takes great enjoyment in his interactions with members of the University and Kalamazoo communities. He said he continues to have great pride in the overall caliber of the institution.

"As I've said so often, I knew a great deal about the University before I got here, but I can assure you that what I have discovered exceeds any of my early impressions, as favorable as they were."

The compensation increase that Dunn has donated back to the University brings his base salary to $355,350. His starting salary in July 2007 was $345,000.

Related article
Presidential evaluation tops board's Dec. 12 agenda

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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