8/13/21: Per Executive Order, all visitors to Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner, Westerly Education Center and R.I. Nursing Education Center must wear a face mask until further notice.

Shannon Gilkey, Ed.D. Named Rhode Island Postsecondary Commissioner

Commissioner Shannon GilkeyOn January 6, the Rhode Island Council on Postsecondary Education and the Rhode Island Board of Education met in a joint special meeting and approved the appointment of Shannon Gilkey, Ed.D. as Rhode Island Commissioner on Postsecondary Education, effective February 1. 

Most recently, Dr. Gilkey served as vice chancellor of academics and workforce development at the Kentucky Community and Technical College System as well as a senior policy advisor for economic and workforce development for the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. He oversaw Kentucky's career and technical programs (CTE), workforce training, and professional development and innovation for the state’s 16 colleges serving 100,000 students.

"Ensuring that Rhode Islanders have access to high-quality, affordable higher education has long been one of my top priorities, and is especially critical in this moment of great economic uncertainty,” said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “I'm confident that Commissioner Gilkey's wealth of experience will be an asset as we work to support our state's workforce.” 

Commissioner Gilkey has a broad range of experiences including 15+ years of service in education, 10 of those in higher education with specific leadership in developing and leading implementation of institutional, state, and national initiatives. Career highlights include establishing and leading a team of higher education experts who developed Rhode Island’s postsecondary attainment plan; and co-founding a national higher education policy and advocacy initiative (‘Higher Ed for Higher Standards’) comprised of 500+ university presidents, trustees, and chief executives of national higher education organizations. The policies shape how states and institutions of higher education improve college readiness for students of all backgrounds and experiences. 

Tim DelGiudice, chair of the Rhode Island Council on Postsecondary Education, said, ““Dr. Gilkey stood out not only because of his past experience but importantly because of his vision for Rhode Island. We work hard every day to make higher education more affordable, more accessible, more responsive, and more diverse for our citizens. The council is enthusiastic about Dr. Gilkey’s plans to continue to build on that success and to propel our state to be a nationwide leader.” 

Dr. Gilkey’s direct experience in helping to shape Rhode Island’s attainment plan introduced local education stakeholders to his superb leadership abilities, his skillful coordination of multifaceted priorities, and his thoughtful consideration of challenges unique to our state. Most of all, his philosophy of leveraging education to improve society, demonstrated by his record of professional successes, aligns with Rhode Island’s vision for our educational system.” 

“When Governor Raimondo set the ambitious goal that 70 percent of working-age citizens will hold a postsecondary degree or credential of value by 2025, she turned to the Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner to create the plan to get there,” said Brenda Dann-Messier, former commissioner of postsecondary education in Rhode Island and presently a Washington, D.C.-based consultant. “Our state worked diligently with Dr. Gilkey as well as policy experts, the institutions of higher education, the employer community, and with many other stakeholders to pinpoint the targets and design the plan that will position Rhode Island for successful achievement of that goal. Much of the coordination was managed by Dr. Gilkey, and I’m delighted that he will be continuing to work on this project in a more direct capacity. He really is the best person I can think of to carry on the work on behalf of the state.”

“From policy to management to executive vision, Shannon Gilkey will be a true asset to Rhode Island’s postsecondary education community,” said Jack Warner, former commissioner of the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education, the precursor to the Rhode Island Council on Postsecondary Education. “His work with Education Strategy Group to strengthen alignment between the K-12 and postsecondary sectors to improve college readiness dovetails nicely with Rhode Island’s efforts to increase attainment, especially in less privileged communities. In order to achieve its 70 percent attainment goal, the state will need to address racial and ethnic equity gaps, focus on working adults, and invest in retention and completion strategies, all strengths of Dr. Gilkey.” 

“Dr. Gilkey’s direct experience in helping to shape Rhode Island’s attainment plan introduced local education stakeholders to his leadership abilities, his skillful coordination of multifaceted priorities, and his thoughtful consideration of challenges unique to our state,” said Barbara Cottam, chair of the Rhode Island Board of Education. “Most of all, his philosophy of leveraging education to improve society, demonstrated by his record of professional successes, aligns with Rhode Island’s vision for our educational system.” 

Commissioner Gilkey earned an Ed.D., in leadership, higher education from Western Kentucky University, a Ed.M. in higher and postsecondary education from Teachers College, Columbia University; a M.Sc. in education studies and higher education from University of Oxford, St. Peters College, Oxford; and B.S. in agricultural science from Murray State University. A frequenter lecturer and speaker, he has addressed the Lumina State Policy Convening; NEASC, AASCU, AACC College Readiness Commission, College Promise Campaign, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. His wife, Meghan Riddle, M.D., will be joining the staff of Butler Hospital of Care New England Medical Group as an attending psychiatrist and co-director of the Butler Hospital Memory & Aging Program of the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.