William B. Boyd was born in South Carolina in 1923. He graduated from Charleston High School in 1940.
From 1943 to 1946 Boyd served as a deck officer and navigator in the U.S. Navy.
Boyd earned his B.A. from Presbyterian College in 1946. In 1947, he earned his master’s degree from Emory University and served as a member of the history faculty at Emory, 1947-1949.
In 1954 Boyd earned his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania with a major in modern European history and a concentration in French diplomatic history. Dr. Boyd became a member of the faculty at Michigan State University in 1953. From 1958 until 1965 he served as Dean of the Faculty and as a Professor of History at Alma College.
Dr. Boyd was named as Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs at the University of California-Berkeley (UCB) in July 1966. Most of his time was spent dealing with problems resulting from UCB’s vigorous and sometimes violent student movement. He had frequent personal contact with student leaders Mario Savio, Bettina Aptheker, Peter Camejo, and Jerry Rubin and the Vietnam Day Committee, Students for a Democratic Society, Black Panthers, and the Campus Draft Opposition.
On April 17, 1968, Dr. Boyd was selected as the seventh President of Central Michigan University (CMU). He was inaugurated on May 12, 1969. When offered $5,000 for the inauguration, President Boyd requested that the money be added to scholarships for disadvantaged students. President Boyd encouraged the acceptance of new ideas, freedom, and innovative teaching, and is perhaps best known for his skilled handling of angry student demonstrators in the early 1970s. He allowed a “teach in” on campus when Professor Joe DeBolt asked him for one at a large assembly. (See DeBolt’s collection for further information.) Unlike his predecessor, President Foust, President Boyd did not believe CMU served as a substitute parent for students. He also chose to involve students with CMU by allowing them to appraise courses and instructors.
Enrollment continued to grow during President Boyd’s tenure, and CMU increased its degree programs, initiated what is now Extended Degree Programs, and constructed new academic and athletic facilities. Diversity, Affirmative Action, and African American projects, committees, courses, initiatives, and a Cultural Center were all begun at CMU during President Boyd’s administration.
President Boyd co-authored a book with Buford Rowland, The Bureau of Ordnance in World War II, a copy of which is in the University of Oregon Libraries. Boyd also had a number of articles that he wrote published in professional journals.
William B. Boyd married Louise Philson, with whom he had two daughters, Marcie and Susan.
In 1975, President Boyd resigned to become President of the University of Oregon. He served as President there until 1980. (This information is from the collection.)