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Western Michigan president John Dunn to retire

A photo of John Dunn from WMU

The president of Western Michigan University announced today he’ll retire next summer, after 10 years on the job.

"I don't feel 71, but this fall I will be 71 years of age,” President John Dunn says. “And I’ve often counseled people, that I think there are opportunities that are places to begin, and there's sort of a time to know you've given a lot of energy and good hard work."

Dunn oversaw the launch of the university's medical school, its affiliation with Cooley Law School, and $500 million in construction projects, according to the university.

Before he retires, he says there’s a “multitude” of things to do.

“We’re opening a brand new dining facility on campus, a $35 million facility. We’re also in the process of some important curricular changes, including the addition of a program in physical therapy…. The medical school is now in its third year. So we’ll be bringing in our third class, and working to bring in our fourth class.”  

His message to his and other universities? Focus more on access to education overall, and less on whether a student goes to a trade school or community college.

"Hold hands. There will always be enough room for us in terms of opportunities to welcome students to our campuses. But let's keep our eye on making sure that it is about the student."

So what secret key will he tell whoever takes over his job?

“I think remembering who we are, and where we come from. And not trying to suggest that the number of degrees that one has, that we’re proud of that, but also to be cognizant of the many ways people demonstrate talent and intellect and in some cases brilliance. And it’s not always measured by those with the most degrees.

“And I think an element of being humble, acknowledging that for some students, a technical education might be most appropriate. For some, a community college is the best and most desired route. And to not make people feel bad, but to acknowledge that that’s all part of the fabric of a great society.”

Western Michigan University says it has already launched its presidential search. 

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.
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