Barry Dunn drew upon his connection to South Dakota State during his presidential interview Wednesday, April 20. With his background in South Dakota, an education from SDSU and a position as the current dean of the College of Agricultural and Biological Sciences, Dunn said he feels confident and prepared to lead SDSU in its next steps.
Students asked Dunn questions during his hour-long interview about aspects of SDSU and how he would handle situations as president. Questions ranged from student engagement, transparency in decision-making processes, the role of athletics at SDSU and academics.
In many of these questions, Dunn responded saying that open communication and having discussions were important to make sure students and administrative officials understood each other and were working together.
As multiple leadership positions go under transition for provost, vice president of student affairs and chief diversity officer, Dunn thinks he’s ready to help SDSU move through this “critical juncture.”
“I think we’re kind of at a tender moment in our history and I believe I have the institutional history and knowledge and leadership that I can help us transition through that stage, but also build off the great platform that President Chicoine has laid out for us and lead us on to higher levels,” Dunn said.
Questions drawing upon part of President David Chicoine’s term at SDSU included research, diversity and inclusion and STEM (Science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
In regards to research, SDSU has grown in its research under Chicoine’s guide, and Dunn plans to continue this. According to Dunn, SDSU only sits at about $50 million going into research at SDSU, and he thinks it can be better. He plans to become more competitive in receiving funds, which will help draw in more revenue for research.
With diversity and inclusion taking the spotlight nationally within the past year, and with talk surrounding the importance of the topic at SDSU, Dunn felt it is the mission of a land grant school to be open for all people.
“The land grant mission opens access to all people … We can continue to do that if we make diversity and inclusion a core value and not just a historical fact,” Dunn said. He also spoke about his mother and connection to tribal communities in South Dakota, saying, “The land grant mission can be alive here better than anywhere else.”
A question regarding STEM on campus asked how humanities plays a role in a campus that’s main focus is STEM. In response, Dunn said SDSU is a place that allows humanities and STEM programs to intersect.
With Dunn’s experience and connection to SDSU, he often drew on what he’s learned working and attending SDSU for many of his answers. For one of Dunn’s answers about the school’s history he let students know, “I bleed yellow and blue.”