The Patton College of Education is honored to recognize Rick Lewis, Chief Executive Officer of the Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA), as November’s Honorary Alum of the Month.
While Lewis graduated from Ohio University’s College of Business, he has advocated for improving public education on behalf of the Ohio School Boards Association for 36 years. For that reason, The Patton College is naming him an honorary alumnus.
“I accepted my very first job after graduation from Ohio University with the OSBA as a labor relations specialist,” said Lewis. “Shortly after joining the team, I realized that in today’s highly competitive world, communities large and small are all faced with increasing challenges. The way schools respond affects not just students, but the growth and future of our local communities, the state of Ohio, and our nation.”
As Chief Executive Officer, Lewis is responsible for overseeing program development and services to assist Ohio’s 714 boards of education.
Still, Lewis says “no two days are the same” within the OSBA.
“On Monday, we may be on Capitol Hill in Washington, in the halls of the Ohio Statehouse, or collaborating with the Ohio Department of Education. The next day, we may be training a small group of newly elected school board members in Southeast Ohio or conducting our annual conference, hosting nearly 10,000 attendees in Columbus at one of the largest education-management conventions in the nation,” said Lewis.
Lewis earned his Bachelor’s of Business Administration from OHIO’s College of Business in 1983 and went on to earn his Master’s of Business Administration in 1984.
The Amherst, Ohio, native said his upbringing had a major impact on his career choice.
“My parents, the late Jay and Wilma Lewis, taught me the importance of hard work, integrity, and above all, the value of public education,” said Lewis. “I was fortunate to grow up with teachers who pushed me, and I remember them all from my kindergarten teacher to my high school teachers. Amherst’s strong system of public schools gives me a solid foundation for my future.”
In 2011, Lewis was recognized as the 2011 Coalition of Rural and Appalachian Schools Samuel L. Hicks Executive in Residence, an honor given by Ohio University’s Patton College of Education to leaders in the field of education.
During his time at OHIO, Lewis was a member of the Marching 110, under the direction of conductor Ronald P. Socciarelli. Lewis’ experiences in the band helped shape him into the leader he is today.
“Mr. Socciarelli taught us about risk, exposure, drive, commitment, and excellence. A lot of us went further in this world than we ever thought we could because he thought we could,” said Lewis. “These lessons actually resonated with us as college students on a football field in Athens, Ohio. Three decades later, they mean even more.”
In addition to his capacity with OSBA, Lewis has served on committees like Ohio’s School Employees’ Health Care Board Advisory Committee, the Ohio Leadership Advisory Council, the Ohio Public Education Supporters, State Teachers’ Retirement System Health Care Task Force, and Power4Schools.
In his day-to-day life, Lewis does his part to make sure the 1.8 million public school students in Ohio, as well as the nearly 50 million students nationwide, are accounted for.
“While we can never repay what has been given to us, it should be our goal to continue that legacy of giving so that those who follow also may enjoy the benefits that have been bestowed on us,” Lewis said. “The OSBA created that opportunity for me. Sometimes you choose your career. Sometimes the career chooses you.”