Randy Boyd

Boyd pulls out of Pody fundraiser

Randy Boyd speaks to reporters in Nashville on July 25, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

University of Tennessee President Randy Boyd won’t be hosting that fundraiser for firebrand state Sen. Mark Pody (R-Lebanon) after all.

The Tennessee Journal noted the odd political alliance in Friday’s print edition, leading to follow-up reporting by the Knoxville News Sentinel and Knoxville Compass. Pody was heavily involved in the “Stop the Steal” movement following last year’s presidential election and has been a main sponsor of legislation seeking to exempt the state from the U.S. Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision and to allow men to block their female sexual partners’ decisions to get an abortion.

“Senator Pody has been a long-time friend,” Boyd said in statement Friday. “We do not agree on all issues. But he called and asked for my help, and I said, yes, in my role as a private citizen and not in any official capacity.”

By Saturday, Boyd was singing a different tune, the Knox News reports. In an email to faculty members, Boyd said his offer to pay for the breakfast was mistakenly interpreted as agreeing to host the event.

“I have not solicited nor did I intend to solicit any contributions for him,” Boyd wrote. “I have not made a contribution to him either personally or through a PAC. I am also not attending the event and have decided not to pay for the breakfast.”

Knoxville ballpark, Tebow charity among entities getting grants in Lee budget

Gov. Bill Lee speaks to reporters following his address to a joint convention of the General Assembly on Jan. 19, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

While big-ticket items like a sales tax holiday on food may be getting much fo the attention in Gov. Bill Lee’s budget amendment, Capitol-watchers have also been pouring over the fine print to see what other interesting items are getting funding.

The AP’s Jonathan Mattise spotted a $13.5 million grant for the minor league ballpark development former gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd is proposing for downtown Knoxville. Another $2 million would pay for renovations at the Hermitage, the Nashville home of President Andrew Jackson, and $1.2 million for the Tim Tebow Foundation’s Her Song project serving human trafficking victims.

Here’s a look at some of other grants included in the budget amendment:

Grants and Community InitiativesAmount
The Sports Authority of the County of Knox and the City of Knoxville, Tennessee$13,500,000
City of Memphis – Youth Sports Complex$10,000,000
City of Johnson City – Walnut Corridor Development$5,000,000
University of Memphis – Carnegie Designation$5,000,000
End Slavery TN – Serving Human Trafficking Victims – Year 1 of 3$3,500,000
Fayette County – Courthouse Renovation$3,000,000
Human Coalition – Serving Pregnant Women and Children in Need$3,000,000
Music City Executive Airport$2,000,000
Hermitage Foundation$2,000,000
City of Memphis – Renovation of Levitt Shell$1,300,000
Her Song – Tim Tebow Foundation – Serving Human Trafficking Victims – Year 1 of 3$1,200,000
Associated Builders and Contractors Greater TN Chapter – Knox County CTE Center$1,000,000
Renewal House, Inc. – Serving Women and Children in Need$1,000,000
Teach for America – Teacher Support in High-Need Areas$1,000,000
Gospel Music Association – GMA Center$1,000,000
Hope Smiles – Oral Health Safety Net$800,000
Niswonger Foundation – College and Career Awareness Activities$700,000
Carroll Academy – Rural Juvenile Alternative Education$600,000
TN Anti-Slavery Alliance – Services for Human Trafficking Victims$600,000
Agape Child and Family Services, Inc. – Serving Families in Need$500,000
Corner to Corner – Entrepreneurship Support for Communities in Need$500,000
Delta Dental of TN / Smile 180 Foundation – Oral Health Safety Net$500,000
tnAchieves – Supports Transition to College$500,000
YMCA of Memphis and the Mid-South – Education / Health Support for Young Children$500,000
YMCA of Middle TN – Mentorship / Education for Kids in Need$500,000
Men of Valor – Re-Entry Support Services$499,500
TN Builders Education Foundation – CTE Construction Expansion$478,000
Science Alliance – STEM Educational Museums$450,000
TN Association of Business Foundation – Public-Private Advanced Manufacturing Partnership$400,000
The Next Door, Inc. – Recovery and Support for Re-Entry$400,000
The Jason Foundation, Inc. – Mental Health Student Support$305,000
Blount County – Senior Center$300,000
Town of Jonesborough – Agriculture Education$300,000

University of Tennessee courses to remain online-only through summer

Interim President Randy Boyd gives the State of the University Address at the Nashville Public Library in 2019. (Photo credit: University of Tennessee)

The University of Tennessee’s courses will remain online-only through the summer in response to the coronavirus pandemic, system President Randy Boyd announced Wednesday.

Here’s the full release from UT:

KNOXVILLE – University of Tennessee System President Randy Boyd – in consultation with chancellors at UT Knoxville, UT Chattanooga, UT Martin and the UT Health Science Center – has announced that summer session classes at all campuses will be delivered online in response to COVID-19.  At UTHSC, clinical rotations in hospitals will continue with students following COVID-19 protocol.
 
“Our faculty and staff have done an incredible job of moving to an entirely digital platform for the spring semester,” Boyd said.  “I am confident they will continue to provide an inspired learning experience for our students who are enrolled in summer classes.”
 
Since moving to an online platform, UT campuses have provided an estimated 9,300 classes online.
 
Each campus will be sending out specific communications to their faculty, students and staff regarding the impact to its respective campuses.

The UT System has a comprehensive resource guide that provides information and resources surrounding COVID-19:  tennessee.edu/coronavirus/.

In December 2019, the global health care community identified a new respiratory virus that originated in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, and has since been labeled 2019 Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19, according to the World Health Organization—previously it was referred to as 2019-nCoV). Spread of coronavirus is correlated with circumstances of close and sustained contact with others who are infected.

The University of Tennessee System has campuses in Knoxville, Chattanooga, Martin and Memphis; the UT Space Institute in Tullahoma; the UT Institute of Agriculture with a presence in every Tennessee county; and the statewide Institute for Public Service. The UT system manages Oak Ridge National Laboratory through its UT-Battelle partnership; enrolls about 50,000 students statewide; produces about 10,000 new graduates every year; and represents more than 387,000 alumni around the world.

6 Tennessee minor league baseball teams on ‘hit list’

Randy Boyd’s minor league baseball teams. (Source: RandyBoyd.com)

Major League Baseball wants to sever 42 minor league teams’ ties with parent clubs, including six in Tennessee, the New York Times reports.

The Tennessee teams on the so-called “hit list” are:

  • Chattanooga Lookouts, Double-A, Cincinnati Reds.
  • Elizabethton Twins, Rookie, Minnesota Twins.
  • Greeneville Reds, Rookie, Cincinnati Reds.
  • Jackson Generals, Double-A, Arizona Diamondbacks.
  • Johnson City Cardinals, Rookie, St. Louis Cardinals.
  • Kingsport Mets, Rookie, New York Mets.

Instead of being stocked with players and coaches from their respective parent clubs, those teams would become part of a lower-tier “Dream League” made up of mostly undrafted or released players.

Elizabethton, Greeneville, and Johnson City,  three teams playing in the Appalachian League, are owned by interim University of Tennessee President Randy Boyd. A fourth team, the Double-A Tennessee Smokies of Sevierville, would be unaffected by the change. The team is affiliated with the Chicago Cubs.

Also avoiding the overhaul are the state’s two Triple-A teams, the Memphis Redbirds (St. Louis Cardinals) and the Nashville Sounds (Texas Rangers).

The Times reports notes that many of the the affected teams have long baseball histories and traditions. The story includes this detail:

Officials in Elizabethton, Tenn., population 14,000, faced a choice a couple of years ago. They could either renovate the police station or meet a condition of the Minnesota Twins: to spend more than $1 million modernizing the clubhouse at the city-owned ballpark, home to its beloved minor league affiliate.

They deferred the police station renovation, and now the Elizabethton Twins have a huge locker room, an upgraded kitchen, a training room, and space to relax and study game video.

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.