Shannon W. Gilkey, Ed.D.


Shannon Gilkey, Ed.D. is the Rhode Island Commissioner on Postsecondary Education. He joined the office in 2021 after serving 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. Dr. Gilkey 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.

Commissioner Gilkey has a broad range of experiences including more than 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.

Dr. Gilkey earned an Ed.D., in leadership, higher education from Western Kentucky University, an Ed.M. in higher and postsecondary education from Teachers College, Columbia University; an M.Sc. in education studies and higher education from University of Oxford, St. Peters College, Oxford; and a 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.

Commissioner, RI Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner