(FRANKFORT, Ky.) – During a special April 17 meeting at which newly appointed members were sworn into office, the Kentucky Board of Education named Wayne D. Lewis Jr. the interim commissioner of education. Lewis is a University of Kentucky professor and most recently served as the executive director of educational programs with the Kentucky Cabinet for Education and Workforce Development.
He replaces Stephen Pruitt, who resigned his position through an employment contract amendment with the board effective immediately. Pruitt had served as commissioner of education since October 2015.
Lewis has more than 15 years of experience in public education, serving professionally in public school districts, higher education institutions and state government. He has served as an adviser to the Kentucky Board of Education, the Education and Workforce cabinet secretary’s designee on Kentucky’s Early Childhood Advisory Council and chair of Kentucky’s Charter Schools Advisory Council. His research, writing and teaching encompass the areas of education policy and politics, human capital and human resources management in education organizations.
“I am incredibly humbled and excited to serve the Commonwealth in this position, and pledge to work every day on behalf of all the students and families across Kentucky,” Lewis said. “We need to refocus the conversation on kids and on improving education for them. Our children need to be our number one priority.”
Lewis completed an undergraduate degree in criminal justice at Loyola University New Orleans. He earned a master’s degree in urban studies with a concentration in public administration at The University of Akron, and a doctorate in educational research and policy analysis with a cognate in public administration at North Carolina State University. He serves on the ministerial team at Wesley United Methodist Church in Lexington and is a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. Lewis is a native of New Orleans and has called Kentucky his home since 2009.
Lewis will be paid $150,000.
In addition to appointing Lewis interim commissioner, the board elected Milton Seymore from Louisville as chair.
“I am fortunate and honored to serve as chair of this board,” Seymore said. “Our work is so important, and we must be sure we are serving all the children of Kentucky and offering them the education and the chance for success that they deserve.”
The board is expected to conduct a full search for a permanent commissioner of education. The next regular meeting of the Kentucky Board of Education is scheduled for June 6.