On Sept. 1, Randy Boyd visited West High and spoke to the senior class for 25 minutes to entice seniors to become Vols and attend UT. Boyd is the 26th president of the University of Tennessee, in office since November of 2018, and he serves as the chief executive officer of the statewide university system.
At age 16, Boyd graduated from Doyle High School before enrolling at UT Knoxville. Boyd graduated from UT Knoxville in 1979 at age 19 with a bachelor’s degree in business with an emphasis on industrial management, becoming the first in his family to graduate college. Following that, Boyd attended the University of Oklahoma, graduating in 1988 with a master’s degree in liberal studies with a focus on foreign policy.
In 1991, Boyd and his wife Jenny sunk their entire life savings into designing a new product: an underground fence they called the “Radio Fence.” In the same year, Boyd founded Radio Systems Corporation, a company that aims to improve animal welfare. Radio Systems Corporation is a Knoxville-based company which produces over 4,000 pet products under brand names PetSafe, Invisible Fence, ScoopFree, and SportDOG. Additionally, Boyd owns Boyd Sports LLC, which owns four minor league baseball teams: the Tennessee Smokies, the Johnson City Doughboys, the Elizabethton River Riders, and the Greenville Flyboys. Moreover, Boyd Sports LLC operates the Kingsport Axemen.
Boyd is a founder and chairman of tnAchieves, which is a nonprofit organization that has helped send more than 133,000 students to community colleges free of tuition and fees. Boyd is also credited as the architect of TN Promise and the Drive to 55, which is getting 55% of Tennesseans to have a college degree by 2025.
In 2013, then-governor of Tennessee Bill Haslam invited Boyd to serve as the Special Advisor of Higher Education. Boyd accepted this, and took a year-long leave of absence to serve as the unpaid advisor of education to Governor Haslam. Following that, in 2015, Gov. Haslam recruited Boyd back to serve as the Commissioner of Economic and Community Development. During his time serving, Boyd’s team recruited 52,000 new jobs and secured $9 billion in new investment for the state of Tennessee. Additionally, Boyd founded and co-chaired the governor’s Rural Task Force and chaired the Governor’s Workforce Sub-Cabinet.
Boyd and his wife Jenny formed the Boyd Foundation in 2018 to further promote youth education, mental health, the arts, and animal welfare. Among the Foundation’s many philanthropic commitments is the Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research and the Boyd Venture Challenge seed grant program for student entrepreneurs, both through the Haslam College of Business at UT Knoxville.
When not busy with being a full-time public servant and entrepreneur, Boyd is an avid runner. Boyd has run more than 85 half-marathons and 50 full marathons, including a marathon in Antarctica and the Six Majors – Chicago, New York, Boston, Berlin, Tokyo, and London. Boyd aims to complete a marathon on every continent and complete 100 half-marathons. Additionally, Boyd became the first candidate in Tennessee history to run 537.3 miles across the state from Bristol to Memphis as part of his gubernatorial campaign. Also a family man, Boyd has been married to his wife Jenny for 38 years, is a father to two sons, a grandfather to two granddaughters, and an avid pet lover.