PRCC honors Dr. William Lewis on his retirement

Dr. Aubrey Lucas speaks on the career of Dr. William Lewis

Wednesday’s retirement reception and ceremony for Pearl River Community College President Dr. William Lewis was an afternoon filled with accolades for a man who dedicated himself to the education of others for over 50 years of his life.

Dr. Aubrey Lucas, President Emeritus of the University of Southern Mississippi, talked about the ‘excellence’ that William Lewis brought to all of the places he worked in his career.

Lucas told the crowd, “William did a great job as color commentator for USM basketball when his friend M.K. Turk was the coach. Talk about excellence!.”

Dr. Lucas also noted that Lewis brought “excellence” to the Petal School District.

“At Petal, William put in place a system of teaching and learning that set the bar for public education in Mississippi. The Petal School system has held the highest ranking longer than any other school system in our state.”

On Dr. Lewis’ leadership style, Lucas said that “William doesn’t boss I’m told. He doesn’t micro-manage, but people who work with him, seem to know what he wants. And instead of pushing and forcing, he enables. At Petal, he proved that excellence does not depend on spending the most money, but expecting the most from colleagues and students.”

District 101 Representative Brad Touchstone presented and read a proclamation from the Mississippi Legislature that honored the life, the career, and the legacy of Dr. Lewis.

From the resolution, Touchstone read “While the legacy of Dr. Lewis’ career and service to the state of Mississippi will serve as an inspiration for future educators, there is no doubt that this state will miss his invaluable contributions to the education of our children.”

Dr. Lewis with Mr. Frank Ladner of Board of Trustees

Also, during the ceremony, the Pearl River College Board of Trustees presented a Waterford crystal to Dr. Lewis for his hard work, dedication, and outstanding leadership provided to the college.

Dr. Adam Breerwood, who will become President of the college on Monday, talked of the time he was excited and thinking he was about to accept the job as head baseball coach at PRCC, when Lewis instead informed him on that day in May that he wasn’t selected for the job, but in the same sentence told Breerwood “Adam, I have plans for you.”

Dr. Adam Breerwood addressing the audience

Breerwood said that “over the next several weeks, we meet several times and he demanded I complete my doctoral program because he had plans for me. Within two years, I was his Dean of Student Services….the rest is history.”

“I could never fathom that a student like me would ever be capable of serving as a college administrator. Dr. William Lewis changed my life on that May afternoon,” Breerwood said trying to hold back his emotions.

Dr. Breerwood told the audience “I will forever be grateful and indebted to Dr. Lewis. There’s isn’t much left to be said about this man that has already been mentioned here today. I can share numerous stories of his leadership, his guidance, and his mentoring, some of which I could share publicly and many of which I will keep sacred. At the end of the day, he is humble, he is modest, and he is the greatest professional I’ve ever known.”

In his remarks, Dr. Lewis stated “I am grateful for the path the good Lord has taken me down and I am grateful for the opportunities that I’ve had to serve people, and hopefully made a difference in somebody’s life. That’s what we do as educators. That’s the reason we chose this field. Having said that, I would like to personally thank all of you for your support of this college, your support of me even when decisions I had made, you didn’t agree with me, but you have always been supportive. I am very grateful for that, very honored, and very humbled that you all would take time out of your busy schedules to come and spend this afternoon with us. Having said that, I just want to leave you with this one thought…May the peace of Christ be with you.”

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