ST. GEORGE — For 10 years, Utah Tech University President Richard “Biff” Williams has led an institution that saw an increase in student population, the move to Division I athletics and a name re-branding.

“We understood going into the process that there would be hurdles, just like we faced when we changed our name and identity in the past,” said Williams, who Thursday announced he’d be resigning his post, effective Jan. 5, 2024. “However, we also knew it was the right move for our institution, our alumni and most importantly, our students.

“The continued progress we have made since the official name change a year and a half ago has made the late nights and hard work worth it.”

Williams told St. George News he is currently exploring administrative positions at other institutions and because of the length and public nature of presidential searches, this will allow the Utah Board of Higher Education time to secure a new president before the fall semester. This is an amicable split for Williams and the university as he explores future professional avenues, according to a press release.

President Williams has overseen one of the most successful, impactful and unprecedented eras of growth of any institution of higher learning in the nation,” Tiffany Wilson, chair of Utah Tech’s Board of Trustees, said in a press release. “His leadership and vision will be tremendously missed, but he will always be remembered as the ultimate Trailblazer.”

Utah Tech President Richard “Biff” Williams speaks in front of students, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Jyl Hall, Utah Tech University, St. George News

Williams oversaw two five-year strategic plans in Dixie 2020 and Trailblazing Distinction, which fueled the university’s remarkable growth. And under his guidance, Trailblazer athletics graduated to Division I status and 42 campus facilities underwent construction or renovation.

“I pride myself in being a builder,” he said. “It has been so fulfilling to build Utah Tech from a small budding university to one of the only open, inclusive, comprehensive, polytechnic universities in the nation.

“They are what drove our growth over the past decade, including a 42 percent increase in enrollment, the addition of more than 200 academic programs and nearly doubling campus facilities.”

Associate Vice President of Executive Affairs and Chief of Staff Courtney White will serve as the interim president, pending board approval. 

“As we enter this transitional period, I am confident in Courtney White’s considerable leadership experience within USHE  and the positive impact he can bring to the UT campus community,” said Amanda Covington, the board of higher education chair.

And Williams hopes the next president will be someone who won’t underestimate the community.

“Our students, alumni, faculty, staff and community are an incredible bunch of people who will achieve anything they set their minds to,” he said. “Dream big, and they will move heaven and earth to accomplish the university’s strategic vision.

I will miss working with my talented and dedicated colleagues every day,” he added. “I will miss our incredible students who are so passionate about earning an education and preparing for the future. And I will miss interacting with the special community of Southern Utah.”

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