Willard Boyd grew up in St. Paul Minnesota quickly taking on the nickname “Sandy” due to his sandy colored hair. After graduating high school in 1944, he served as a Navy Hospital Corpsman in World War II from 1945-1947. Following his time in the service, Sandy attended the University of Minnesota where he received a Bachelor of Science in Law degree (BSL) in 1949 and his and Bachelor of Laws degree (LLB) in 1951. After becoming a member of the Minnesota Bar Association in 1951, he continued his education receiving his Master of Laws degree (LLM) in 1952 from the University of Michigan Law School. Following school, Sandy practiced law at the Minneapolis firm of Dorsey & Whitney for two years until which time he moved to Iowa and entered academia at the University of Iowa. Sandy quickly felt at home at the University of Iowa and taught law until 1964, during which time he became a member of the Iowa Bar Association in 1958. He later earned his Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) degree from the University of Michigan in 1962. As a young member of the law faculty, he was asked by President Hancher to spearhead the background research needed to begin the discussion and planning of the creation of the University of Iowa Foundation.
His career as an academic administrator began in 1964 when he served as Associate Dean of the College of Law before becoming Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties for The University of Iowa, a position he held from 1964 to 1969. 1969 opened a new chapter for Sandy as he was named the 15th President of the University of Iowa, an honor he held until 1981. Sandy’s presidency was a time of great social unrest with Iowa City being a hotspot for anti-war rioting. As such, Sandy was a pioneer of the human rights movement and was ahead of his time in his ‘affirmative attitude’ approach. He worked diligently to establish the Fair Housing Act at the University of Iowa and established the Iowa City Human Rights Commission.
After ending his tenure as University President, Sandy took on a new role as the President of the Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois. His time at the Field Museum included an expansion of the awareness of cultures around the world. Sandy’s work can still be seen there today. As part of an effort to bring the World’s Fair to Chicago, he realized that the geographical layout around the Field Museum was inefficient and as a result, moved Lake Shore Drive to its current location. Sandy’s humanitarian work was very present during this time as well, in fact, he was one of the first recipients of the Charles Frankel Prize (now the National Humanities Medal) in 1989, honoring his efforts to bring history, literature, philosophy and other humanities disciplines to general audiences.
After returning to Iowa in 1997, Sandy returned to teaching, and in 1999, founded the Iowa Nonprofit Resource Center (later named the Larned A. Waterman Iowa Nonprofit Resource Center), an organization which aids nonprofits throughout the state. He chaired a Governor’s Nonprofit Task Force which mapped out the primary concerns of Iowa’s nonprofits and created guidelines for nonprofits, known as the Iowa Principles & Practices for Charitable Nonprofit Excellence. Today, Sandy currently teaches this class at the University of Iowa. When the class first began it was held for one night and had approximately 30 students. Presently, the class is a requirement for a multitude of majors and is a two semester long course with roughly 150 students.
Described by friends and colleagues as a fair and open-minded man of integrity, Sandy is someone who leads by example and will always work to do what is right. He is the very definition of inspiration through leadership. The hard work and dedication Sandy has invested in the Iowa City area, as well as the state of Iowa, is and will forever be present. Sandy and his wife Susan, currently reside in Iowa City. They have three grown children: Betsy, Bill, and Tom. Together Sandy and Susan have seven grandchildren.