The University of Tennessee Board of Trustees on Tuesday placed its trust in failed gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd to lead the system as interim president.
Boyd, the Knoxville entrepreneur who made improving education a key plank in his failed bid this summer to be Tennessee’s governor, will take over as interim University of Tennessee system president when current President Joe DiPietro retires in November, WBIR reported.
The Board of Trustees voted Tuesday morning to appoint Boyd to the role. As the board started its vote, a few students began protesting.
Stephanie Haines reported on Twitter, “Before this, a few students interrupted the vote and approached Chair Compton with a petition against the appointment. They were asked to leave. There was some profanity.”
UT Board of Trustees votes Randy Boyd as interim system president pic.twitter.com/2GE7OMhD3F
— Stephanie Haines (@StephanieWBIR) September 25, 2018
Several UT students attended the meeting and protested Boyd’s appointment, holding signs saying, “LIES” and “#RunoutRandy,” the Knoxville News-Sentinel reported. Several also spoke during the meeting, saying they had concerns about his appointment.
Some protesters planned to introduce a bill to the Student Senate Tuesday night opposing Boyd’s appointment.
The bill says, “the administration has forgone any review of student opinion as to any of their administrative changes as of late,” and Boyd “has no experience in academia or running a college or university.” Another concern raised in the bill is Boyd’s “record of forgoing the needs of marginalized communities including the LGBTQ+ community, as well as women, people of color, and immigrants.”
Boyd’s job could last up to 24 months or until the appointment of a new president at UT, The Tennessee Star previously reported. Boyd has told the board that he will decline to be paid a salary.
Boyd lost in a blowout primary election Aug. 2 in the Republican governor’s race to political newcomer Bill Lee.
Boyd, who owns a pet products company, poured at least $19.5 million of his own money into his failed gubernatorial bid, The Tennessee Journal: On the Hill reported.
The News-Sentinel quoted Boyd as saying, “It’s an incredible honor and I’m humbled. You know, this is something that I never imagined being able to do.”
Trustee Amy Miles, who participated in the meeting through telephone, said she thought Boyd embodied characteristics important to the university system.
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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.