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For Immediate Release
September 20, 2004

Editors – Interim Superintendent Randy Dunn will be available to media today, Monday, September 20 at 1:00 p.m. in the ISBE Board Room, 4th Floor, 100 N. First Street, Springfield. The call-in number will be 1-866-297-6315. B-Roll and video details will be sent shortly.

Downstate Educator Appointed Interim Superintendent

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Board of Education today appointed Dr. Randy J. Dunn of Chester, Illinois to the position of Interim State Superintendent of Education. Dunn, a former K-12 educator and faculty member at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, was appointed at the Board’s first meeting since Gov. Blagojevich appointed seven new members last week. Dunn was the Governor’s proposed candidate for the position.

“Today is a new day at the Illinois State Board of Education,” said Jesse Ruiz, Chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education. “We are excited about our new roles as board members and we are pleased that Dr. Dunn has accepted the opportunity to join us as we move Illinois education in a new direction. As an educator with experience on many levels, Dr. Dunn is the right person to step in immediately to manage the agency.”

Dunn began his education career as a fourth grade teacher in Gibson City, Illinois. He later moved into administration, serving as principal for two schools in central Illinois and later as Superintendent of the Argenta-Oreana Community and Chester Community School Districts. Dunn’s education background includes a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education with an emphasis on Reading and a Master’s in Education. He began his studies in broadcasting and later switched to elementary education. He has made teaching children to read a focus of his career ever since. Dunn is on leave from SIUC as Chair of the department of Education Administration and Higher Education.

“Education is my passion,” said Dunn. “I can’t think of a better way or a better time to serve Illinois school children in yet another capacity. This is a historic time for education in Illinois. I look forward to working with the Governor Blagojevich, the new board and agency staff.”

This was the first Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) meeting for Ruiz, Dr. Andrea Brown of Goreville, Dr. David Fields of Danville, Ed Geppert of Belleville, Dr. Vinni Hall of Chicago, Brenda Holmes of Springfield and Dr. Chris Ward of Lockport. The seven new members were joined by the two continuing members on the state board, Dean Clark of Glen Ellyn and Joyce Karon of Barrington. The new members’ appointments require confirmation by the Illinois Senate, but statute allows them to begin work immediately.

After accepting the position, Dr. Dunn made several key staffing appointments. Dunn appointed Mark Kolaz to the position of Assistant Superintendent for Operations. Kolaz has over 20 years of state government experience. More recently he served as Senior Advisor to Governor Blagojevich for Legislative Affairs and as Deputy Director of Agriculture. In the capacity of Deputy Director of Agriculture, Kolaz managed the Illinois State Fair.

Dunn appointed Jonathan Furr to the position of General Counsel. Furr has served as the General Counsel for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources since April 2003. Prior to that, Furr worked in the Governmental Practice Group at Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw in Chicago.

The changes at ISBE follow the Governor’s signing of Senate Bill 3000 last week. The new law allowed the Governor to appoint seven new members to the State Board and also instills new accountability at the agency. At the Governor’s direction the new board and interim superintendent will focus its attention on four areas. The board will immediately:

  • develop ways to reduce the backlog in teacher certification and streamline the certification process;
  • improve collaboration with local districts, taking steps to reduce the number of rules and regulations imposed on local districts;
  • work with schools to help them save money; and,
  • develop innovative strategies to improve Illinois education.

Illinois State Board of Education
100 North First Street
Springfield, IL 62777