University of Tennessee’s Interim President Randy Boyd is confident in both where the system is today and where it’s heading. On the job for just short of four days, Boyd has already spent time at the Martin and Chattanooga campuses.
His big takeaway so far is the system, as a whole, has an impact across the state. Earlier this week, he released six goals of his tenure at the helm:
1. Great successors for UTK Chancellor and UT System President
2. More graduates across the state
3. Improving research, includes improving relationship with ORNL
4. Enhance current community impact, to include summit on opioids at end of January which will include resources from ORNL, UT Health Science Center, UT Medical
5. Improve brand
6. Improve relationships between campuses and system
Boyd has formed a committee to find a full-time chancellor for UTK. He says when a successor for him is chosen, he plans to help them in an easy transition, as he says outgoing system president Joe DiPietro did for him. He says candidates for both positions should be focused on collaboration.
“We’re more powerful when we work together,” he said.
In his visits across the state, Boyd also met with legislative delegations from near Martin and Chattanooga. He hopes to forge more open communication between the system and the capitol.
“I do hope that is an asset that I can bring. that i have relationships and friendships with so many of the legislators and people in the administration that can hopefully build bridges of understanding between the legislators, the people of Tennessee and the university,” he said.
When asked about hate crimes, he says there will be zero tolerance for them.
“They’re deplorable, despicable. Working with chancellor Davis, we will have zero tolerance. Chancellor Davis is taking some very positive steps to help try to prevent future incidences. But, it’s going to be impossible to guarantee that we can always prevent every incident. I think the most important thing we can do is create a culture of belonging and a culture of respect. That’s something we’ll all be working to do, both at the campus level and the system level.”
UTK Sophomore Karsyon Kelly believes because Boyd ran for the highest office in the state, he is poised to be an effective system president.
“I see us as all important and we all can work together. If he sees it [UTK] as important as we do, I think he’ll do a great job until the replacement comes in,” she said.
Kelly also put in a request about the next chancellor of UTK. She wants someone similar to former UTK chancellor Beverly Davenport.
“I remember as a freshman coming in, I saw her face everywhere. She was at so many events and she was very supportive of every student. She was encouraging to everyone she talked to. I talked to her a few times and she was just a very lively woman. I really like what she did with the university.”