by Emily Mosier
Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Richard Boutwell may not be flying planes for the elite Thunderbirds squadron anymore, but he still plans to reach great heights working at his alma mater.
As Troy University’s Senior Vice Chancellor for Advancement, Boutwell is responsible for governmental relations, developmental fundraising, alumni affairs and strategic oversight of the University’s relationship with every branch of the military.
“Day-to-day, like many jobs, I try to figure out what the most important thing is to get done,” Boutwell said. “I try to push that down to the directives and let them take their own initiatives, but I help set vision and priorities.
“I ask ‘how do we advance Troy for the long term and not just for today,’ to keep the primary focus on benefiting our students.’”
As the “new guy,” Boutwell said he gets the benefit of challenging the way things are done with a fresh set of eyes. He hopes to explore opportunities the University has not yet taken advantage of, including the defense industry.
He referred to Alabama’s military installations, such as Fort Rucker, Maxwell Air Force Base and Redstone Arsenal as great partners. And he said that with the construction of Troy’s Center for Materials and Manufacturing Sciences, there will be opportunities for military research.
“It will allow us to explore research in defense and how can we help expand the nation’s defense capabilities,” Boutwell said. “At the same time, we’ll continue to develop skills for our students, and then hopefully they can stay in Alabama to do a job that they love while also supporting the military effort.”
Boutwell has an extensive military leadership background, including his most recent post as Deputy Commanding General of the Fifteenth Air Force, leading more than 47,000 people, 800 aircraft, and 13 bases.
However, he said his experience as a student at Troy had an equal part in preparing him for leadership.
“I’m not sure I would’ve had that foundation to succeed in the military without Troy,” Boutwell said. “But the military complimented that with giving me the opportunity to lead.
“Those experiences were equal parts of my success.”
Boutwell spoke about the unique, personal experience he received at Troy. Now, as he attempts to give that same experience to current students, there is a particular mantra he keeps in mind.
“It only takes one,” Boutwell said. “I used that motto in the military as well. You never know what ordinary act is going to enact something extraordinary to happen.
“It’s about nurturing that student, that one . . . it’s about not walking past anybody.”
At multiple points in his interview with The Tropolitan, Boutwell expressed love and passion for Troy University, the school where he met his wife and the school his daughter attended. After moving all across the United States, and the world, during his military career, he always knew that the only thing that could bring him back to Alabama was Troy University.
“Every day that I walk or drive on campus, I’m grinning ear to ear and go, ‘I can’t believe this story has come full circle,’” Boutwell said. “It is where our life began, our family began, and now it’s good to be home.”