Rick Boyd

Category: Spirit of a Volunteer

Rick Boyd Receives the Spirit of a Volunteer Award

For Rick Boyd to be named the inaugural recipient of the Spirit of a Volunteer Award from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is to recognize a life devoted to service. As a US Military Academy at West Point graduate, Boyd served 20 years in the US Army Corps of Engineers before spending 27 years with Clayton, one of the nation’s leading homebuilders, from which he retired in 2022.

At his Clayton retirement celebration in May, Boyd was honored with the Spirit of a Volunteer Award.
“I was very pleasantly surprised and honored by the award,” Boyd said. “My family and friends were particularly surprised by the nature of the award and that it was given to me even though I am not a UT graduate. As a West Point graduate and a big Alabama fan, that makes this recognition even more meaningful.”

The Spirit of a Volunteer Award program recognizes those who have contributed to the success of the university through time, talent, and philanthropy but who are not alumni. Boyd contributed significantly to the success of the College of Architecture and Design, where he served as a representative for Clayton on the Dean’s Advocacy Board for four years before concluding his term in 2022.

“Rick Boyd has been an engaged and energetic contributor on the board,” said Jason Young, dean of the college. “His generosity extends beyond Clayton’s financial support. He has been a true partner and collaborator who advocated for our students and made connections for us that support students’ educational experiences.

“When our college and others at UT began efforts to create the ACE (Architecture, Construction, and Engineering) Mentor Program of Greater Knoxville, Rick was immediately in favor. He saw the value of introducing high school students to our discipline, and he took action. He not only became a board member of the organization, but he also introduced it to Clayton-Bradley Academy in Blount County, Tennessee,” said Young.

Nationally, the ACE Mentor Program of America runs after-school programs through approximately 75 chapters to attract high school students to careers in the architecture, construction, and engineering industries. Organized by three UT colleges, the Greater Knoxville chapter launched in 2019 with three participating high schools, including Clayton-Bradley Academy.

“I mentor high schoolers at the Clayton-Bradley Academy, where we sponsor an ACE program for about 15 students,” Boyd said. “I spend much of my time at this juncture in life tutoring young people. This also happens through almost daily interaction with the young people working at Clayton in order to improve their work performance and guide them through their professional journey.”

Boyd was actively involved in continually improving the work environment at Clayton over his term of employment, ending that term as head of its manufacturing operations. His contributions at Clayton include not only mentorship but also improvements in pay, career opportunities, the physical environment, and the leadership climate. These endeavors have resulted in significantly lower rates of turnover and higher engagement scores, as well as more satisfied employees, which in turn, mean more efficiency and profitability.

One notices a theme in Boyd’s life: that his focus centers on other people and helping them to grow and thrive. His focus remained the same while serving on the Dean’s Advocacy Board with the College of Architecture and Design. Before and during his board term, he helped create more student and faculty opportunities and encouraged breakthroughs in research, collaboration, and partnerships for the college and university that also benefited his company.

“I joined the board because I was interested in supporting our community and strengthening the relationship between the university and Clayton,” said Boyd. “In this respect, I have been able to promote the university as a resource that we can leverage to make the company and community stronger. Our work together on the Additive Manufacturing Integrated Energy (AMIE) project was particularly rewarding.”

The AMIE project brought together multiple agencies and partners, including Clayton and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. AMIE utilized the research and design concepts of students and faculty from the College of Architecture and Design and other areas of campus to create a 3D-printed car and home with a solar array system that powered both vehicle and structure. Clayton, with its vast expertise and ability to produce manufactured homes, helped with the structure’s assembly process.

“Clayton, UT, and our partners gained very valuable knowledge and recognition through this effort,” said Boyd.

Boyd was instrumental in many such collaborations between Clayton and the university, and he helped reengage the company with UT, which resulted in a substantial gift to the College of Architecture and Design for unrestricted use. For his tireless service to UT and his extraordinary board service as a representative of his company, the university’s Spirit of a Volunteer Award is much deserved.

“Rick’s active support of our college has been admirable,” said Young. “I thank him for his service to education. His selfless contributions genuinely define the spirit of a Volunteer.”