Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

Karen D. Boyd

Professor of Practice, Director of Undergraduate Education, and Leadership Studies Coordinator


Karen D. Boyd serves as a Professor of Practice, Director of Undergraduate Education, and Program Coordinator for Undergraduate Leadership Studies in the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies Department. She teaches undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral courses that explore the intersections of higher education history, leadership studies, personal/social responsibility, and student learning.

Full Profile        Download CV    Leadership Studies Minor



Can a student’s metacurricular experience in college, in and out of the classroom, set the stage for successful leadership later in life? And how can institutions best structure their programs, activities, services, resources, and student interactions to prepare self-authored personally and socially responsible leaders of tomorrow? These questions motivate Boyd’s practice and scholarship.

Prior to her appointment at UT, Boyd held positions with increasing responsibility in university housing and dean of students’ functions (i.e., student conduct, support, organizations, etc.).  Boyd’s undergraduate experiences in Orientation, student organization leadership, and the Residence Hall Council had convinced her that, if shaped properly, the student’s college involvements could serve as effective integrative learning environments cementing institution-wide learning outcomes. Her administrative work at Clemson University, East Carolina University, Georgia Tech, and Carnegie Mellon reinforced this professional philosophy. In each of these positions, Boyd explored ways to enhance student learning through the environments, programs, and personal relationships within her circle of influence. Her professional organization service, and her long history of producing innovative, strategically-selected, transformational student-centered programs, services, activities, and instruction, earned her a reputation for facilitating and assessing supportive and inclusive learning environments, student conduct processes, and leadership education that promotes ethical development and intercultural maturity.

The success of one initiative, Preventative Discipline and Organizational Sustainability (expanding organizational leadership capacity to reduce dangerous student behavior, while increasing collaboration with the university in responding to unethical or prohibited behavior) focused the questions that drove her doctoral work and continue to shape her academic career. Subsequently, Boyd’s applied research agenda seeks to understand why that initiative worked in practice, and how to replicate those student learning successes in other settings and on a much larger scale. Leadership Studies provides an intentionally structured curriculum and accompanying resources supporting student life and other student-focused administrators as instructors. The curriculum goal is to develop self-authored personal and socially responsible leadership in advised and supervised student involvements (See the links to resources below in Scholarly Highlights). The diversity of her administrative and teaching roles, at midsize to large universities with predominantly residential campuses, and her record of forging increasingly complex academic-student affairs partnerships, set her apart as an expert on experiential learning and its impact on leadership development.


To enhance, influence, and shape higher education structure and practice of education for career-ready self-authored personally and socially responsible leadership, such as:

  • Historical social justice and civil rights college leader exemplar case studies,
  • Educating for ethical and intercultural sensitivity and decision-making skills through experiential learning interventions, and
  • Intercultural dimensions of Student and Academic Affairs Partnerships.

Dr Boyd leads an Undergraduate/Graduate Student Research Team that examines these topics and the impact of technology as a delivery agent on the effectiveness of leadership education and skill development.


B.S./B.A. in Industrial Relations and Economics, University of North Carolina, 1983.

M.A. in Counseling and Human Development, Appalachian State University, 1990.

  • Student Development and Administration Tracks

Ph.D. in College Student Affairs Administration, University of Georgia, 2010.

  • Dissertation: “The Nature of the Student-Institution Relationship and Behavioral Indicators of Personal and Social Responsibility: An Exploration of the Association between Relational Quality Outcomes, Alcohol Use, and Academic Dishonesty."

Professional Service

Relevant Scholarly Contributions

Courses taught:

  • History of Higher Education
  • Foundations and Theories of Leadership
  • Personally and Socially Responsible Leadership
  • Leadership in Transition
  • Multiculturalism in U.S. Higher Education
  • Student Development Theory
  • Legal and Ethical Issues in Higher Education

Awards and Recognitions

Professional Highlights 

  • Recognized nationally in 2016 by ASCA with the Donald D. Gehring Award (career achievement) and ACPA with Commission XV Tracy R. Teele Memorial Award (research and contribution to the field). Honored to receive NASPA Region 3's 2019 Bob E. Leach Award (outstanding service to students) and the 2021 NAACP Image Awards Faculty Member of the Year by the University of Tennessee Knoxville Chapter.
  • Conceptualized and co-authored the college’s Undergraduate Leadership Studies Minor and the curriculum for the Honors Leadership Program
  • Partnered with the Division of Student Life to integrate experiential leadership learning throughout the student experience at UTK.
  • Completed three decades of college leadership, including 20 years as a student affairs practitioner, culminating as a senior student affairs officer, and over a decade of academic affairs/faculty experience.
  • Served as President and selected Gehring Academy Chair/Faculty Association of Student Conduct Administration

Contact Information

  • 1122 Volunteer Boulevard 322 Bailey Education Complex Knoxville, TN 37996-3430
  • Phone: 865-974-9183
  • E-mail:
  • LinkedIn