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Boyd Recommended for Interim U-T President

By Mocs News Staff

U-T officials are recommending a former Tennessee gubernatorial candidate to serve as an interim president for the University of Tennessee.  Randy Boyd, a Knoxville businessman and U-T alumnus, lost his bid for the GOP nomination for governor to Bill Lee. If the appointment is approved, Boyd could serve up to 24 months in the interim position.

Here’s the email sent out today.  And click here for information on the retirement of Dr. Joe DiPietro.

UT System Leadership

Today, I will announce my plan to ask the board to consider appointing UT Knoxville alumnus and Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd to serve as interim president for the University of Tennessee System, perhaps for 12 to 24 months, following the retirement of UT President Joe DiPietro.

As chair of the UT Board of Trustees, I am committed to making UT the best it can be. As you know, our University crosses the entire state with campuses in Knoxville, Chattanooga, Martin, Memphis and Tullahoma and a presence in all 95 counties through the Institute of Agriculture and Institute for Public Service. Our work impacts almost 50,000 students, 12,000 faculty and staff, and more than 370,000 alumni worldwide as well as the more than 6 million Tennesseans in our state. Who sits in the UT president’s office matters.

So, this is a recommendation that I do not make lightly, and I would like to share with you my thought process in making this recommendation.

I think it is important to take a step back and evaluate the strategic needs of each campus and institute and the support required from the System administration in order to raise the bar on our overall success. Our mission as trustees is to serve our students, faculty and staff, aid the advancement of research, and support outreach efforts that impact the lives of Tennesseans.  Appointing an interim president gives us time to gather more input from stakeholders—staff, faculty, administrators, alumni, legislators and community members—and objectively lay out our future plans and leadership needs.

I’ve also given careful consideration to the second part of my recommendation, which is to put forward Randy Boyd for the interim appointment. If appointed interim president, Boyd has declined to be paid a salary.

He is a Tennessean and successful businessman with strong ties to the University of Tennessee and experience in higher education leadership and policymaking.

He 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. Prior to running for governor this year, Boyd served as chair of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and as Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. He also served as Gov. Bill Haslam’s adviser for higher education and was the architect for Drive to 55 and tnAchieves—initiatives aimed at increasing the number of high school graduates in Tennessee who attend college and earn degrees without financial hardship. Through his philanthropy, Boyd also supports the UT Knoxville Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research and the Boyd Venture Challenge seed grant program for student entrepreneurs.

It is for these reasons, among others, that I believe he would work every day to ensure the continued success of the University of Tennessee.

My fellow trustees and I began our service as board members by listening, and we will continue to do so next week. I will lead discussion of these matters during a meeting set to begin at 11:45 a.m. EDT on Sept. 25 in Knoxville. During the meeting, the University community will have an opportunity to provide input on this recommendation. More information, including a link to a live webcast of the meeting, will be available at

I wanted you to hear directly from me my perspective on this important recommendation, and I welcome your input and feedback.

John Compton
UT Knoxville ‘83

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