SIRIS Board Member Profile -- JP Dunn

Aug 20, 2013

Centralia, Illinois native and Southern Illinois Radio Information Service (SIRIS) board member JP Dunn has made education and helping others his life's work.
After graduating from Kaskaskia College with an AAS in Electronics Technology, Dunn went on to Southern Illinois University (SIU) in Carbondale where he earned a Bachelor's degree in Electronics Management. He enjoyed his experience at SIU so much that he decided to stay and earned a Master's degree in Education, with a specialization in Computer-Based Education, which has since been renamed Instructional Technology.
Dunn was a continuing education instructor at John A. Logan College and a web developer and Blackboard administrator at SIU before becoming a full-time SIU employee in 1997, where he now works as the Learning Management System Administrator for the Center for Teaching Excellence. He also teaches a Freshmen Orientation course, which helps students adapt to college life.
"I really enjoy teaching and feel it's what I was meant to do as my career," says Dunn. "I seem to have a knack for being able to make complex material easy for students to understand. Having the opportunity to teach and inspire others is a privilege."
Dunn first became involved at WSIU many years ago when he volunteered to answer phones during a pledge drive at the urging of his friend, the late Mary Jane Dwyer, a former WSIU Radio staff member. "She said they were always looking for phone volunteers," he said. "I thought it sounded like fun – and it was!" Dunn now also serves as on-air talent during WSIU's membership drives.
Invited by friend and former SIRIS director, Vickie Devenport, to join the board, Dunn has been an active member for seven years, working to update policies, help with fundraising, and develop outreach activities. He also helped to rewrite the board's operating papers. Other goals, he says, include "increasing fundraising, making sure users have functional radios, and adding a SIRIS Internet stream so users can listen online."
With federal funding for social services dwindling each year, Dunn says he thinks it's more critical than ever to support SIRIS and public radio, so people of all backgrounds can have access to information about their communities and the world.
"People with disabilities are often left out of certain aspects of society simply because they lack access to information and content," says Dunn. "I think that's unacceptable."
Dunn cites an important friendship as motivation for supporting SIRIS and services like it. "I had a friend in high school who is blind," he says. "We got to know each other very well and shared an interest in amateur radio. I was inspired by his ability to get around and his refusal to let his disability prevent him from enjoying life. I'm fortunate to have everything I need and more, and serving on the SIRIS board is one of the ways I can share my good fortune and help others."
A public media fan, Dunn has experienced "many driveway and shower moments" while listening to Morning Conversation, NPR News, StoryCorps, and the Saturday morning lineup. "I also loved Music From the Hearts of Space and was sorry to see it go," he says.
Dunn is an avid cook, so he's also a regular viewer of WSIU-TV's CREATE channel. "I've learned new cooking skills and expanded my culinary vocabulary," he says. He also enjoys watching NOVA, Frontline, and MotorWeek.
In his spare time, Dunn serves as kitchen coordinator of the Newman Center's annual Thanksgiving dinner and enjoys spending time with his family, biking, and swimming. He'd also like to explore the centuries-old architecture in Rome and try skydiving, but adds, "I might have to talk myself in to jumping out of a perfectly good airplane!"