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.

Here is the release from UT:

The University of Tennessee Board of Trustees will meet Sept. 25 at 11:45 a.m. EDT/10:45 a.m. CDT to consider appointing an interim president.
UT President Joe DiPietro announced Monday that he planned to retire from active service Nov. 21. The newly formed board of trustees will consider appointing UT Knoxville alumnus and Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd to serve as the interim president for up to 24 months or until the effective date of appointment of a new president following an external search. If appointed interim president, Boyd has declined to be paid a salary.
Members of the public can preregister to address the board regarding the proposed appointment during a 30-minute comment period at the Sept. 25 meeting at the Visitors Center on the UT Knoxville campus.
UT Board Chair John Compton said appointing an interim president gives the trustees time to plan for the University’s future. He and the other trustees, since beginning their work Aug. 1, have individually been meeting with and listening to key stakeholders, including legislators, faculty, campus leadership and alumni.  
“These conversations have revealed that it is necessary to take a step back and evaluate the strategic needs of each campus and institute and support required from the UT System Administration in order to raise the bar on our overall success,” said Compton.
The board is passionate about elevating UT, he said. 

“Our students, faculty, research partners and citizens all expect us to continually improve. Our campuses and institutes individually and the UT System collectively have many areas of pride. Yet, with any success, one always needs to raise the bar for achievement,” Compton said. “This is a chance for us to take our time—perhaps 12 to 24 months—to reflect on the input we’ve been given, gather additional input, and objectively lay out our future plans and leadership needs.”
Boyd, who ran for governor this year, is the founder and chairman of Radio Systems Corp., with more than 700 employees, offices in six countries and the brands PetSafe, Invisible Fence and SportDOG.
He was the architect for “Drive to 55” and tnAchieves and served as Gov. Bill Haslam’s adviser for higher education. He also served as chair of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and as Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.
“Randy is a Tennessean, a UT alumnus and a hugely successful business person. He has invested in the University, personally and financially,” Compton said. “The University of Tennessee is more than its network of campuses and institutes across the state.  We have a presence in every county across this state.  During the past 18 months, Randy has visited every county at least two times, he knows the landscape, he has relationships and understands the needs of our state.”
Through his philanthropy, Boyd also supports the UT Knoxville Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research and the UT Institute of Agriculture’s College of Veterinary Medicine Boyd Venture Challenge seed grant program for student entrepreneurs.
“He’s a true public servant, and he will work every day to make sure the University of Tennessee System is meeting the needs of our state,” Compton said.

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