A native of Sylvarena, Mississippi in Smith County, Dr. Boykin received his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from Alcorn State University (formerly Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College) in 1942, Master of Science in Agricultural Education with a minor in Agricultural Mechanization from Michigan State University in 1954, and the Doctor of Education in Administration and Supervision of Vocational Education from Indiana University in 1961.

In 1971, Dr. William Cola Boykin, Sr. served as the first Alcorn State University Extension Administrator to establish extension programs in five counties, and one year later added 10 additional counties. In 1974, Dr. Boykin in partnership with Mississippi State University to establish the Southern Rural Development Center, served as the Associate Director from 1974-1980. He retired from Alcorn State in September of 1980, and from 1980-1984, Dr. Boykin served as the President of Natchez Junior College in Natchez, Mississippi.

Throughout his career, Dr. Boykin was a member of various organizations and received numerous awards and recognitions for his many contributions to agriculture throughout the state of Mississippi. He was posthumously inducted in the Alcorn State University Hall of Honor in 1992. In 1993, the Agriculture Science building was co-named in honor along with the late of Dr. Jesse A. Morris, Sr.

Dr. Boykin was a life member of American Vocational Association, Inc. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Phi Delta Kappa, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. and deacon at the Mercy Seat Baptist Church in Port Gibson, Mississippi.

He was married to the late Wilmetta Booth Boykin, ‘42. Dr. William Cola Boykin, Sr. died March 28, 1989.