KNOXVILLE — The University of Tennessee Board of Trustees appointed alumnus Randy Boyd as interim president in a specially called meeting today.
Boyd will begin his new role Nov. 22. Current President Joe DiPietro, UT’s 25th president, recently announced he will be retiring from active service Nov. 21. He has led the University since January 2011.
“I have confidence in Randy and will do everything I can to make sure he gets a good start,” DiPietro said after the vote. “He will take the momentum we have achieved and will make the University even bigger, better and greater.”
Boyd, a Knoxville businessman, will serve for up to 24 months or until a new president is appointed following an external search. He has declined to be paid a salary. He will receive a stipend of $10,000 per year to cover costs related to enrollment in the state group health insurance plan.
“I am committed to the success of the University of Tennessee and will dedicate my full focus to continuing the momentum achieved by Dr. DiPietro and leaders throughout the system,” Boyd said after trustees voted to approved his appointment. “Thank you for this honor and for putting your trust in me.”
UT Board of Trustees Chair John Compton nominated Boyd for the interim position, stating that an interim would allow trustees time to plan for the University’s future and that Boyd’s unique set of experiences made him the ideal candidate.
“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.
As part of the decision Compton said he and the other trustees reviewed emails and social media posts and listened to opinions from faculty, students and the general public before and during the meeting.
“All of the feedback we’ve been given electronically has been shared with trustees,” Compton said. “That feedback was the majority positive.”
Trustee Lang Wiseman said they heard the concerns of those who responded.
“Diversity and tolerance are important characteristics of the University that each one of us shares and upholds,” he said. “I feel certain and confident that he will uphold the characteristics and traits we want in our University.”
Trustees also approved waiving the requirement that DiPietro provide 180 days written notice of his retirement.
Boyd graduated from UT Knoxville in 1979 with a B.S. in Industrial Management and in 1988 from the University of Oklahoma with a master degree in liberal studies that focused on foreign policy. The Knoxville businessman is the founder and chairman of Radio Systems Corp., which has more than 700 employees, offices in six countries and the brands PetSafe, Invisible Fence and SportDOG.
He was the architect for “Drive to 55” with the Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect scholarship programs to help 55 percent of Tennesseans earn a post-secondary degree by 2025. He led Tennessee Achieves as chairman and acted 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.
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 given Boyd Scholarships for Tennessee Promise students and supported the UT Knoxville Boyd Family Track and Field Center.
The University of Tennessee is a statewide system of higher education with 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 370,000 alumni around the world.