Taylor R. Randall Named Next President of the U


A portrait of Taylor Randall on the David Eccles School of Business website.

By Kayleigh Silverstein, Special Projects Managing Editor, News Writer


On Aug. 5, 2021 — eight months after former President Ruth Watkins announced her intended resignation from her position — the Utah System of Higher Education announced the University of Utah’s next president: Taylor R. Randall.

Randall has served as the dean of the David Eccles School of Business for 12 years, working to expand experiential learning and gaining the school various accolades. Before this, he taught as an accounting professor for 11 years.

The USHE, members of the presidential search committee and members of the public convened on the fourth floor of Rice-Eccles Stadium, awaiting the announcement of the next president. 

Before the announcement was made, different members of USHE acknowledged the work done by both Watkins and interim President Michael Good.

“President Watkins led the University to new heights over the last three years,” said Harris Simmons, chair of USHE and co-chair of the presidential search committee.

On July 21, 2021, three finalists were forwarded to the presidential search committee for consideration. 

Since then, each candidate has presented a public forum where they gave short remarks about their plans for the U if appointed and responded to questions from those in attendance.

Randall said at the forefront of his leadership will be innovation, creativity and a focus on the student experience — themes he thinks will resonate with stakeholders. 

Feedback from the community was crucial to not only the public forums but also the search in general.

Christian Gardner, Trustee chair and search committee co-chair, said he was impressed with the level of participation from the public.

“I want you to know every letter, text, email, everything was read and evaluated,” Gardner said.

Minutes after Randall was announced to be the next president, UnsafeU, an organization which raises awareness about campus safety issues, posted their opposition to his appointment.

In the post, they said they are disappointed in the Board of Higher Education for holding the public hearings during a break period of the student body with less than 24 hours to submit feedback. 

“This was not a deliberative or democratic process and the most vulnerable voices in the selection of new leadership was not centered,” the Aug. 5 Instagram post from UnsafeU read. 

While UnsafeU is concerned about Randall’s commitment to inclusivity, he said he will continue the work done by Watkins in bolstering completion rates and increasing inclusivity. He said the U will be remembered for its humanity and who is brought in, not those who are left behind.

“I promise and I commit to you that as we strive to be a premier institution in this land, we will also be the most inclusive,” he said. 

According to Randall, he is confident the U can become a premier institution under his leadership. 

“I have big aspirations for this university,” he said. “I have an abiding faith in the students, the faculty and the staff that I have seen through my entire career give endless hours of service when they did not need to.”

UnsafeU said in order for the U to become more transparent and accountable, an external hire is needed.   

“Taylor Randall will just continue to cover up for the U’s lack of federal compliance and he has no vision for accountability and transparency measures (nor increasing campus resources),” the post read. 

Additionally, UnsafeU criticized his Aug. 4 public forum, saying he did not adequately address campus safety issues.

They also commented on his time as dean of the business school, saying he failed to address complaints of racist and sexist behaviors by faculty members in his college. 

UnsafeU plans to file a complaint with the Department of Education in the coming months.

Randall assumes the position on Monday, Aug. 9, 2021.

“If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough,” Randall said. “I’m scared. Let’s hope we’ve got a big enough dream.”


[email protected]