Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education

CPE names Rick Smith to lead workforce and economic development

July 06, 2021

Rick Smith

CPE announced that Rick W. Smith Sr., a professional with more than 30 years of experience in higher education and private sector leadership, will serve as the Council's new associate vice president for workforce and economic development.

Smith has held key leadership and development positions at the Kentucky College of Art Design, Kentucky State University and Northern Pennsylvania Regional College. He most recently served as the president and CEO of the United Way of Ross County, Ohio. He has also held leadership roles in health care administration, public relations, business development and nonprofit leadership over the past three decades.

"Rick is bringing tremendous experience and a unique skill set to this position," said CPE President Aaron Thompson. "No one is more qualified to help strengthen the nexus between higher education and workforce development, and we are fortunate to have him back in Kentucky."

As an integral member of the president's executive team, Smith will develop and coordinate efforts to align postsecondary programs and policies with the state's workforce and economic development needs. His first day will be July 1.

Smith earned a bachelor's degree in broadcast communication from the University of Louisville, a master's in business administration from Kennedy Western University and a master's in philanthropic studies from Indiana-Purdue University. He is a doctoral candidate enrolled in Bradley University's Higher Education Leadership Program.

While serving as the senior vice president of advancement and chief development officer for the Kentucky College of Art + Design, Smith played a vital role in creating Kentucky's only independent college of art and design. Before that, he served as the vice president of development, alumni relations and athletics at Kentucky State University.

Smith was named one of Atlanta, Georgia's 40 under 40 Top Business Executives in 2005. He currently serves on several boards and committees, including the Leadership Louisville Board of Directors, the Leadership Louisville Finance Committee, the Kentucky Derby Festival Board of Directors, and the Kentucky College of Art + Design Board of Trustees.

"I am thrilled to join Dr. Aaron Thompson and the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education team of professionals," Smith said. "Higher Education is my passion, and I look forward to working with the Commonwealth's colleges and public and private sectors as we collaborate to enhance the educational experience and career readiness of our students."

Last Updated: 7/22/2021