Willard Lee ‘Sandy’ Boyd (1969-1981)

Willard Lee ‘Sandy’ Boyd (1969-1981)

Oil on canvas by Joseph Patrick, 1981

In 1969, at age 42, Willard (Sandy) Boyd became one of the youngest University of Iowa presidents to assume office. He did so during one of the most tumultuous periods of student unrest in the history of the school.

Boyd received the Bachelor of Science degree in law from the University of Minnesota in 1949 and the L.L.B. in 1951. He received the L.L.M. from the University of Michigan in 1952 and the S.J.D. in 1962. After practicing law in Minneapolis, he became a professor of law at Iowa in 1954, serving on the faculty until 1964 at which time he was named vice president for academic affairs.

As president of the University, Boyd supported increased funding for the institution, including higher faculty salaries. During the student unrest of the early 1970s, Boyd was credited with maintaining dialogue between the administration and student leaders. An advocate of human rights, he was appointed in 1962 as the first chair of the University of Iowa’s Human Rights Committee.

From 1981 to 1996, Boyd was president of the Field Museum in Chicago. In 1996, he returned to Iowa to once again teach law. Among his many honors, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2000. In 2002, he was named acting president of the University following the resignation of Mary Sue Coleman, who accepted the presidency of the University of Michigan.

Boyd was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on March 29, 1927. He married Susan Kuehn on August 28, 1954, and they have three children.