Randy Boyd

Boyd recommends Nebraska’s Plowman as UT-Knoxville chancellor

Randy Boyd speaks to reporters in Nashville on July 25, 2018. The former Republican gubernatorial candidate was nominated to serve as interim president of the University of Tennessee on Sept. 19, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Interim University of Tennessee President Randy Boyd is recommending Donde Plowman to become the ninth chancellor of the system’s flagship campus in Knoxville.

Plowman is the executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

“Under Donde’s leadership, I am looking forward to an exciting, successful and transformational future,”  Boyd said in a release. “Her student-first approach, her reputation as a dynamic leader and collaborator and her great love for the UT Knoxville will be great assets as we work together to advance the university and the state of Tennessee for many years to come.”

If approved by the board, Plowman will succeed Beverly Davenport, school’s first female chancellor who was fired last year amid criticism of her handling of UT’s botched football coaching search, her rejection of then-Gov. Bill Haslam’s outsourcing initiatives, and (especially among lawmakers) for the ongoing student-led Sex Week activities on campus.

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UT plans to create tuition-free program for families making less than $50,000

UT Interim President Randy Boyd gives the State of the University Address at the Nashville Public Library. (Photo credit: University of Tennessee)

Interim University of Tennessee President Randy Boyd is introducing a free tuition program for students from households earning less than $50,000 per year, which is just above federal poverty guidelines for a family of four.

Students must qualify for lottery scholarships to be eligible for the program. The initiative seeks to emulate the popular Tennessee Promise scholarships for community college students, though that program doesn’t set income limits or academic requirements.

Here’s the full release from the University of Tennessee:

NASHVILLE – University of Tennessee Interim President Randy Boyd has announced the creation of “UT Promise,” a financial aid program that will provide free tuition to qualifying Tennessee residents enrolling at University of Tennessee campuses located in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Martin. 

The announcement was made at the annual State of UT Address held at the Nashville Public Library.

“It is critically important that we take a lead role in ensuring students can achieve their dream of obtaining an undergraduate college degree,” Boyd said. “It is our mission and responsibility to do everything  we can to ease the financial burden for our middle- and working-class families, and UT Promise is an ideal conduit to achieve that.”

UT Promise is a last-dollar scholarship program that will guarantee free tuition and fees for students with a family household income of under $50,000 and after other financial aid is received (such as Pell Grants, HOPE Scholarship, or other institutional scholarships).  Students must qualify for the Hope Scholarship and meet the academic qualifications for the institution to be eligible for this new scholarship. To help ensure success, students will be matched with volunteer mentors and will complete four hours of service learning each semester.  

UT Promise will welcome its first class in the fall of 2020, and the scholarship program will include those students who were previously enrolled in college when the program begins in 2020.  Qualifying Tennessee residents who meet the criteria for UT Promise can transfer from any institution. UT Promise is an expansion of scholarship offerings and does not replace existing scholarships.

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Boyd outlines priorities as interim UT president

Randy Boyd speaks to reporters in Nashville on July 25, 2018. The former Republican gubernatorial candidate was nominated to serve as interim president of the University of Tennessee on Sept. 19, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Former gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd has taken the (interim) helm of the University of Tennessee system. He’s outlined a series of priorities, which include beginning the search process for a new permanent president in 2020.

Here’s the full release from UT:

KNOXVILLE – University of Tennessee Interim President Randy Boyd unveiled his priorities as president of the statewide University of Tennessee system earlier today.

“I am truly honored to have the opportunity to serve my alma mater, the University of Tennessee, and my state. We have experienced eight years of unprecedented success under Dr. Joe DiPietro, and we are deeply appreciative of his leadership. We must ensure we do not lose momentum during the transition to the next generation of visionary leadership,” said Boyd. “It is vital that we continue to do the important work currently underway, from building the endowment to enhancing educational opportunities.”

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Randy Boyd nominated as interim president of University of Tennessee

Randy Boyd speaks to reporters in Nashville on July 25, 2018. The former Republican gubernatorial candidate was nominated to serve as interim president of the Univeristy of Tennessee on Sept. 19, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Randy Boyd, an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican gubernatorial nomination this year, has been nominated as the interim president of the University of Tennessee system.

Boyd was Gov. Bill Haslam’s chief higher education adviser before being named economic and community development commissioner. He played key roles in the development of the Tennessee Promise free community college program and the governor’s Drive to 55 initiative to boost the state’s graduation rates.

The Board of Trustees will consider Boyd’s nomination in a Sept. 25. He would succeed President Joe DiePietro, who announced this week that he plans to retire from active service on Nov. 21. Boyd has agreed to forgo a salary while serving up to two years while an external search for a permanent replacement takes place.

Boyd, the founder of a Knoxville pet products company, poured at least $19.5 million of his own money into his gubernatorial bid. He ended up coming in second to Franklin businessman Bill Lee in the GOP primary.

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After the Boyd marathon comes the sprint

Republican gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd speaks to reporters in Belle Meade on July 25, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Having already run across the state, Republican gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd is announcing a 95-hour “sprint to election day.” The former economic and community development commissioner plans 20 public events across the state leading up to his primary night party in his hometown of Knoxville on Thursday.

“The early vote is in. And now the biggest day is only hours away – It’s rally time! The team that finishes the strongest down the stretch will win, and I pledge to give it everything I’ve got these last few days,” said Randy Boyd.

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Knoxville News Sentinel endorses Boyd

Republican gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd speaks to reporters in Belle Meade on July 25, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Randy Boyd has been endorsed by his hometown newspaper, the Knoxville News Sentinel.

The newspaper praises the Knoxville businessman for his “full-blown, thoughtful platform addressing jobs, education, health care and rural development.”

“But he wasn’t about to be torpedoed by more-conservative-than-thou demagoguery,” the paper editorialized. “When U.S. Rep. Diane Black came out with an attack ad questioning his conservative credentials, he fired back.”

The Boyd endorsements comes after the conservative side of the Chattanooga Times Free Press’ opinion pages endorsed Bill Lee in the Republican gubernatorial primary.

Anti-Boyd website questions pollster’s links to Lee campaign

Businessman Bill Lee speaks at his campaign headquarters opening in Franklin on Feb. 12, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A conservative website that has long targeted Randy Boyd’s gubernatorial bid is raising questions about ties between one of its favored Republican candidates, Bill Lee, and a poll that suggested he had surged to a 6-point lead over Boyd.

The Tennessee Star notes that Lee’s general consultants Blake Harris and Jordan Gehrke have links to JMC Analytics and Polling, the company that released what it billed as a “completely independent” poll in the Tennessee governor’s race this week. Harris and Gehrke are partners in Vertical Strategies and Victory Phones respectively, companies that share a Grand Rapids, Mich., address with another company called Advictory. Lee’s campaign has spent heavily on Advictory and Victory Phones — a company that has been listed as an auto-dialer for JMC polls in other states (the company did not disclose its auto-dialer for the Tennessee poll).

Boyd campaign CEO Chip Saltsman immediately dismissed the poll as “bogus” and said it looked like a “publicity stunt by the Lee campaign to try and artificially create some momentum.”

JMC founder John Couvillon told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that he has no clients in Tennessee and decided to poll the GOP primary as a “completely independent project” because there were few other public polls run in the state.

Boyd campaign slams poll showing Lee leading GOP gov’s race

The Randy Boyd campaign is unimpressed by a poll suggesting Bill Lee is leading the Republican primary contest for governor by 6 percentage points.

“No one should fall for a deeply-flawed poll cooked up at the 11th hour by some unknown pollster,” said Boyd campaign CEO Chip Saltsman.

It’s not the first time Saltsman has railed against the methodology of a poll promoting one of Boyd’s GOP rivals. In March he charged that a poll touted by the Diane Black campaign showing her with a 14-point lead over Boyd was “bogus.” Saltsman used that same term to describe the new JMC Analytics poll.

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Was steak dinner Boyd’s reason for missing debate?

Randy Boyd got the dominoes falling when he declared that he would not attend a televised Republican gubernatorial debate in Knoxville on Sunday because of an unspecified scheduling conflict. Beth Harwell and Diane Black soon followed suit in deciding not to go. Reporter Cari Wade Gervin has scoured the Twitterverse to reveal that “a pricey steakhouse dinner” in Memphis may have been the reason for Boyd dropping out of the debate.

Boyd drops out of final televised gubernatorial debate

Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd won’t participate in the final Republican gubernatorial debate before the Aug. 2 primary.

Republican Randy Boyd addresses the audience during the Gubernatorial Forum on Education at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018. (George Walker IV /The Tennessean, Pool)

WATE-TV reports that the Boyd campaign is citing a “scheduling conflict” for sitting out the July 22 debate to be held at Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville.

Most of the debates and candidate forums so far have been largely staid affairs, thought the atmosphere might have been different this time following the influx of negative TV ads, and because candidates desperate to gain traction might be more willing to take shots at each other.

The Pellissippi State debate is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. Eastern between Democrats Karl Dean and Craig Fitzugh, followed by the GOP debate between Beth Harwell, Bill Lee, and Diane Black at 9 p.m.