- Associated Press - Thursday, June 19, 2014

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Southern Illinois University’s Carbondale campus will be overseen by an interim replacement for its departing chancellor “for some period of time” until a permanent successor to Rita Cheng is chosen, the university system’s president said.

Randy Dunn said he expects to meet next week with the university’s governing board to begin sorting out how to fill the void created by Cheng, who on Wednesday was approved by Arizona Board of Regents as the new president of 26,000-student Northern Arizona University.

Cheng, the Carbondale campus’ chancellor since 2010, is to start her new job in Flagstaff in mid-August and, at least for now, scheduled to remain with SIU into next month. She had a year remaining on her SIU contract.

Dunn, during an interview Wednesday by The Associated Press, said he could offer no immediate specifics about the possible breadth or duration of a search for Cheng’s permanent successor, saying such details could become clearer next week when SIU’s board discusses “various ways to move forward.”

“Clearly, there’s a certainty we’re going to have interim coverage for some period of time,” Dunn said, adding that he expects to seek feedback from various constituencies on the Carbondale campus about the succession.

Dunn, SIU’s president since May, has said he was not blindsided by Cheng’s career aspirations and ultimately the revelations earlier this month that she was sole finalist for Northern Arizona University’s top job, noting that the 61-year-old chancellor previously had confided to him “she was looking at some opportunities.”

A Northern Arizona University search committee had chosen three finalists from 60 candidates, though only Cheng agreed to meet with a quorum of regents.

Cheng, who the (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan newspaper reports earned $348,000 a year at SIU, will get an annual base salary of $390,000 under her three-year contract at Northern Arizona. She’ll also get yearly allowances of $10,000 for a vehicle and $50,000 for housing.

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