A crowd gathered Friday to dedicate the Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research within UT’s Haslam College of Business and to honor alumni and benefactors Randy and Jenny Boyd.
The Randy and Jenny Boyd Distinguished Professorship was also created, and will be linked to the director of the Boyd Center going forward.
Governor Bill Haslam and UT Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek honored the couple for their commitment to education and the state of Tennessee.
“The Boyds have made significant contributions to education because they believe in its power to change peoples’ lives,” said Cheek. “The center is critical because of its research base and objectivity. Randy and Jenny’s contribution will make this center an even stronger asset to the state of Tennessee and the nation.”
Bill Fox, director of the center and inaugural recipient of the Randy and Jenny Boyd Distinguished Professor appointment, said their investment will allow the center to expand its services. The center recently hired applied microeconomist Enda Hargaden, who is finishing his doctorate at the University of Michigan.
“At its heart, the Boyd Center is a dedicated group of researchers focused on the application of policy,” said Fox. “It’s a group that has spoken to the state legislature, testified to Congress, and worked around the world.”
The center was established in 1937 as the Bureau of Business and Economic Research and became the Center for Business and Economic Research in 1967.
The Boyd Center focuses on national and state economic trends for government and private organizations. The center conducts research on economic analysis and policy considerations on taxation, health care, education, workforce needs, capital investments, and welfare.
Randy Boyd graduated in 1979 with a degree in industrial management. In 1991, he founded Radio Systems Corporation, which produces more than 4,600 pet products under brand names such as PetSafe, Invisible Fence, and SportDOG.
In 2013, he took a year’s leave of absence from his company to serve the governor in a volunteer role as special advisor on higher education. Boyd played a key role in the development of the Drive to 55 initiative and Tennessee Promise before becoming Tennessee’s commissioner of economic and community development.
Haslam discussed the Boyds’ selflessness and commitment to education.
“If you name the people who make the most impact on the state of Tennessee, near the top of the list, if not the top of the list, are Randy and Jenny Boyd,” said Haslam.
Randy Boyd serves on the Haslam College of Business Dean’s Advisory Council and as the college’s chair for the Investing in the Journey to the Top 25 campaign, a university-wide effort.
At the event, he announced that Tennessee’s unemployment has dropped to 4.5 percent for the first time since the Great Recession hit. He also encouraged attendees to invest in the Haslam College of Business.
“If you want to make a change in the world, invest in education. If you want the best return on your investment, invest in business education,” said Randy Boyd.