Randy Boyd, a Republican businessman and longtime ally of Gov. Bill Haslam, has been nominated to serve as the interim president of the University of Tennessee, following the decision of the system's current leader to move up his retirement.
Boyd, the former commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development and an aide to Haslam on education, could serve as UT's leader for up to two years. Boyd says he wouldn't take a salary if given the position.
John Compton, the chairman of the school's new Board of Trustees, says he offered Boyd the job shortly after he lost the GOP primary for governor in August. Compton said Boyd expressed an interest in maintaining a role in higher education.
"Randy Boyd is a friend of mine," Compton said at a press conference to discuss the nomination. "Randy and I served on the Haslam School of Business for 10-plus years, trying to help the dean achieve even better results in the School of Business. So I've known him for a long period of time."
Boyd is the founder of Radio Systems Corp., a company that makes invisible dog fencing. He also owns two minor league baseball teams. He's a well-known philanthropist in Knoxville, and he was a key advisor in the development of Tennessee Promise, the state’s free community and technical college program.
He's a longtime friend of the Haslam family, who are UT benefactors. Compton denied the Haslams had any role in nominating Boyd for the UT presidency, though he said he did use the governor as a "sounding board" for the selection.
"I brought him Randy Boyd," Compton said. "He did not bring the idea to me."
Compton says he wanted someone who knows the school well because the interim president will be working with a brand-new board, appointed by the governor earlier this year.
The nomination still has to be approved by that board. It plans to vote next week.