Haslam Announces Higher Education Initiative

Corporate leader & UT Alumnus to spearhead effort in coordination with state leadership

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced that Randy Boyd will join his administration as special advisor to the governor for Higher Education to focus on affordability, access and quality of state programs.

Boyd will consult with a formal working group appointed by Haslam made up of the governor, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC), chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR), and president of the University of Tennessee.  Although Boyd’s position will be full-time, he will be working for the state on a voluntary, unpaid basis.

“Over the past six months, I’ve spent a lot of time learning from experts in our state and across the country about the challenges we face in higher education,” Haslam said.  “Only 32 percent of our state’s adult population has a post-secondary degree, but if we are going to a have a workforce that’s job-ready, we need to be at 55 percent by 2025.  The conversation needs to be about K to J with the ‘J’ meaning jobs.

“It is clear to me that unlike K-12 education where there is general consensus about how to improve education. That isn’t the case when it comes to tackling the ‘iron triangle’ of affordability, access and quality in post-secondary education. I am grateful that Randy has agreed to join our team to head up this crucial effort.  He will bring a business, workforce alignment perspective and a demonstrated passion for improving access to higher education to this issue. I believe it says a lot about the importance of this issue to the future of our state when someone of Randy’s caliber is willing to come from the private sector and serve in this way.”

In 2009, Boyd helped start tnAchieves, a non-profit organization that has sent over 3,200 high school graduates to community college free of charge with mentors. Of those students, 68 percent are the first in their families to attend college, and more than 65 percent have family incomes below $50,000.  The organization serves 26 counties providing universal college access to those high school graduates.

“I am passionate about improving educational opportunity for all our citizens,” Boyd said.  “To achieve the governor’s mission, we will need to broaden the net and to provide greater access.  I’m excited about this opportunity because Gov. Haslam is determined to make a material impact.  I believe our state has a rare opportunity, and I am honored to be able to assist.”

Boyd, 53, is chairman of Radio Systems Corporation, which he started in 1991.  Radio Systems is headquartered in Knoxville and has more than 600 associates worldwide with offices in seven countries. The company produces over 4,000 technology-based pet products under brand names such as Invisible Fence, PetSafe, SportDOG, and Premier. It is a private company with sales over $300 million.

Boyd received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee in industrial management in 1979 and a master’s in liberal studies from Oklahoma University in 1988.

Boyd also currently serves on the board of a number of organizations including the University of Tennessee College of Business Dean’s Advisory Council, the University of Tennessee Alumni Association, and Knox County’s Great Schools Partnership.  He also established the PetSafe Chair of Companion Animal Behavior within the Small Animal Clinical Sciences department of the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Tennessee.

He has received several awards including Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year for the Southeast in 2008, Tennessee Business Magazine’s CEO of the Year in 2009, UT’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2009, and was inducted into Junior Achievement’s East Tennessee Hall of Fame in 2008.

He and his wife, Jenny, have two sons.  Boyd begins his role in Nashville today, January 15.

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Higher Education Governance: Not the Focus of the Haslam Administration This Year

After a series of discussions on higher education and workforce development with business and community leaders, elected officials, educators and administrators, the Haslam Administration announced yesterday evening that they will not be seeking legislation to alter the structure of higher education governance this year.

The Governor stated that his administration had nothing major in terms of legislation planned for public higher education institutions.  However, the Governor did state that he remains concerned about the rising student cost to attend college, and announced that his administration will continue to look for ways to help relieve the burden of that cost.  Expanding scholarship opportunities is one potential avenue the administration is considering.

Quoted by the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the Governor revealed some of the items up for discussion.  “We’re looking at everything from broadening the scholarship program we have now, tnAchieves, and helping people go to community colleges free or whether we can make better use of an online education program that might work for some people to continuing what Tennessee started with the Complete College Act.”

The Tennessee General Assembly convenes on January 8, 2013.  Check back for updates on the Governor’s higher education agenda as well other legislation that would impact the University of Tennessee System.

Gov. Haslam Meets with UT Martin Leadership, Discusses Unique Role of Campus in Region, State

Today, Governor Haslam met with UT Martin Chancellor Tom Rakes and members of his staff to discuss the unique role UT Martin serves within the West Tennessee region and state. Haslam’s visit is part of an ongoing dialogue held across the state concerning higher education and workforce development.

Chancellor Rakes noted that UT Martin has the second highest graduation rates in the state among all public colleges and universities. He further noted that 52% of all UT Martin’s entering freshmen are Pell Grant recipients. The Governor was noticeably impressed with the campus’ achievements in this area and asked staff to expand on various measures undertaken to achieve this outcome. A lengthy discussion ensued on how to increase the participation and success rates in STEM majors.

Although no specific policy proposals were discussed, the Governor noted that he is continuing to gather information on the successes and needs of public higher education institutions and their ability to foster a more competitive workforce for the state.

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Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam with UT Martin Chancellor Tom Rakes

3 Things To Know This Week About Higher Ed

  • The Joint Government Operations Committee reviewed student conduct rules.  Lawmakers questioned the specifics of rules surrounding student possession of guns and knives on campus.  Tom Humphrey of the Knox News Sentinel has the story.   Or, watch it for yourself here.
  • Governor Haslam hosted the seventh and final higher education roundtable this week at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga.  The discussion turned to higher education funding, where the Governor said, “What we want to know is: If you want to invest in something new, creative, what are you going to divest? Most great businesses do that.” Kevin Hardy reports, “While [the Governor] said he’s committed to ending Tennessee’s decades-long practice of slashing post-secondary education funding, it doesn’t appear that new funding will be available anytime soon.”  The Chattanooga Times Free Press has the full story.
  • Sen. Jim Summerville was removed as the Chair of the Higher Education Subcommittee by Senate Education Chairwoman Dolores Gresham following the reporting of a controversial email.  Sen. Jim Tracy has been named as his replacement.  Update: Sen. Jim Summerville has resigned from the Senate Education Committee.

Gov. Bill Haslam Hosts Leaders from Education, Business at The University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis for Candid Conversation on Postsecondary Education in Tennessee

Memphis, Tenn. (August 8, 2012) – For an hour Tuesday afternoon, on the campus of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), Gov. Bill Haslam led a candid conversation with some 25 Memphis educators, business leaders and legislators.  His goal was to glean their perspective, ideas and comments on how the state can help education and business leaders raise the quality of our postsecondary graduates.

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