POPLARVILLE, MS (WDAM) - Dr. William A. Lewis, 70, the president of Pearl River Community College since July of 2000, will retire June 30 of this year with almost 50 years of public service in various Mississippi educational institutions.
Lewis informed the PRCC Board of Trustees of his decision Tuesday during its monthly meeting.
On July 1, Dr. Adam Breerwood, Vice President for the Poplarville campus and Hancock Center, takes over as PRCC's 11th president.
In April 2015, the PRCC Board of Trustees designated Breerwood president-elect of the two-year college, to succeed Dr. Lewis upon his retirement.
"This service to our college has truly been a blessing to me and my family," said Dr. Lewis. "I believe that our institution has made great strides in becoming a modern-day institution of higher learning that services the needs of our local district and the state of Mississippi."
In his letter to the board of trustees, Lewis added,
During Lewis' tenure as head of Mississippi's first community college, the school has experienced a significant growth in enrollment, developed a national reputation for excellence in teaching and learning, produced a national championship in football, and is widely recognized for the high quality of its arts programs.
He was also the driving force behind campus reconstruction following Hurricane Katrina on Aug. 29, 2005.
"Pearl River Community College has been extremely blessed to be led by Dr. Lewis for the past 17 years," said Alan Lumpkin, board of trustees chairman and superintendent of Pearl River County Schools.
"His thumbprint can be seen throughout this institution through the planning, construction and renovation of old and new buildings on all campuses. Dr. Lewis has led PRCC into the 21st century with new programs and job training opportunities for not only students of the PRCC district but all of Mississippi and its neighboring states. His leadership has impacted every student and faculty member who has graced the campuses of PRCC. Dr. Lewis will be a Wildcat for life."
Lewis, a native of Clinton, earned a Bachelor's degree from Mississippi College as well as the Master's and Doctoral degrees from the University of Southern Mississippi. During his service to the state's public education system, his experiences as a professional educator have included teaching, coaching, and administrative assignments in Mississippi's public schools, community colleges, and universities.
In 1991, he was appointed superintendent of the Petal School District. During his tenure, the Petal schools consistently ranked among the top districts in Mississippi on statewide measurements of student achievement.
The Public Education Forum of Mississippi named Dr. Lewis as executive director in January 1998. In this role he was responsible for directing the activities of a business-support organization established to promote improvement in the state's public education system.
During homecoming activities at Mississippi College in October 1999, Dr. Lewis was presented the College's Distinguished Alumni Award from the Department of Teacher Education.
In 2014, he was inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame at the University of Southern Mississippi.
Lewis is married to the former Janet Ladner of Gulfport. They have two children: Kelli and Jay, and four grandchildren.