Like so many students, John M. Dunn found his wife at BYU. But what is different about Dunn is that he is a Catholic who married a fellow student, Linda Turner, another Catholic—and they remain loyal Cougars living a life of honor.
Dunn elected to devote his life to service as an educator and is in his ninth year as president of Western Michigan University. He counts among his achievements the launching of the Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine and an affiliation with the Thomas Cooley Law School. Beloved by students, Dunn has lived a life dedicated to higher education. “I think service and helping others has always been part of my DNA. Being a student at BYU definitely added to that.”
In one of his most honorable acts of service, Dunn helped WMU begin the Seita Scholars program. The Seita Scholarship provides tuition to qualified applicants who grew up in the foster care system. It aims to help students who age out of foster care gain access to higher education.
He says, “We believe that youth who age out of foster care in the state of Michigan deserve an opportunity to think beyond high school and pursue their academic goals. Western Michigan University is committed to providing them with a great education and a place to call home.”
Despite never joining The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Dunn has always had a goal to respect the BYU Honor Code, which he followed completely as a student. “When I left the school, I wanted to make sure that others knew I was not unfaithful to the school’s religious convictions. I am still proud to be a product of BYU. While my religious convictions may differ, my core values are certainly not,” Dunn says.
“Today I have a short beard, I enjoy an occasional glass of wine, and I have a cup of coffee sitting in front of me nearly every morning, so in that sense I no longer adhere stringently to the codes, but my basic core values remain the same.”
As the president of WMU, Dunn has inspired his students to live a life dedicated to the future. “When we help students today, we urge them to pay it forward, support that next generation, or even just the next person who needs help.”
—Collin T. Mathias ('16)