ST. GEORGE — Utah Tech University is saying farewell to its president, Richard “Biff” Williams, in early January.

In this file photo, Utah Tech President Richard “Biff” Williams speaks to Utah Tech University graduates, St. George, Utah | Photo by Stephanie DeGraw, St. George News

Williams announced today that he will step down effective Jan. 5 to pursue other professional opportunities. The university’s associate vice president of executive affairs and chief of staff, Courtney White, will be named interim president, subject to board approval.

“I am beyond grateful for my tenure at Utah Tech,” Williams said in a press release issued by the university. “What we have built, experienced and accomplished together is nothing short of remarkable. Our collective success is a testament to what a group of people with passion, skill and purpose can achieve.”

Williams is currently interviewing for administrative positions at other institutions of higher learning. Understanding how presidential searches are often lengthy and public processes, Williams said he is focusing on his future opportunities while allowing the Utah Board of Higher Education to secure a new president by the beginning of Utah Tech’s fall semester.

“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 the press release. “His leadership and vision will be tremendously missed, but he will always be remembered as the ultimate Trailblazer.”

Williams’s career at Utah Tech began in 2014 — the year following its designation as a university. As president, he has helped facilitate the addition of more than 200 academic programs, including the institution’s first graduate degrees. During his tenure, student enrollment increased by 42% and scholarship funding grew by 90%. Additionally during his time as president, Trailblazer Athletics received Division I status, donations to the institution increased and 42 campus facilities were constructed or renovated.

This file photo shows President Richard “Biff” Williams at a ribbon cutting at the new Utah Tech University branch campus, Hildale, Utah, May 17, 2022 | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News

Williams guided the institution to become one of the nation’s only open, inclusive, comprehensive polytechnic universities. As part of this mission, he formed partnerships with industry leaders to inform the curriculum and prepare graduates to meet workforce demands.

In the last year, Williams was listed as one of Insights Success’s “Most Inspiring Thought Leaders Transforming Education,” included in Industry Era’s “Top 10 Inspiring CEOs” and added to the Marquis Who’s Who biographical registry.

“The Utah Board of Higher Education extends its gratitude to President Williams for his years of service and contributions to Utah Tech University,” Amanda Covington, Board of Higher Education chair, said in the press release. “As we enter this transitional period, I am confident in White’s considerable leadership experience within USHE and the positive impact he can bring to the UT campus community. I look forward to considering his appointment as interim.”

The Utah Board of Higher Education will begin a comprehensive national search for Utah Tech’s 19th president, as the board has purview over the appointment of presidents within the Utah System of Higher Education.

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