Tom Layzell's career in higher education spans over forty years. In 1984 he was selected to be Executive Director of the Board of Governors, a relatively new concept for public universities created in 1969. In 1986 the Board of Governors decided that the Presidents of Eastern, Western, Northeastern, Governors State, and Chicago State Universities would also report to Layzell, and his title was changed to Chancellor. He served as Chancellor until 1995 when Governor Jim Edgar and the legislature dismantled the system of systems and abolished the Board of Governors. Thereafter, he continued his distinguished career in higher education in Mississippi and Kentucky.