Gilkey’s new 3-year contract extension includes annual pay raises

PROVIDENCE – Shannon Gilkey was awarded a three-year contract extension to remain as the state’s postsecondary education commissioner that runs through Jan. 31, 2027, and includes annual pay raises.

The new contract was approved Feb. 14 by the R.I. Council on Postsecondary Education, the same day the council voted to keep Jack R. Warner as president of Rhode Island College. Gilkey first arrived in Rhode Island in February 2021 after serving as vice chancellor of academics and workforce development at the 16-school Kentucky Community and Technical College System.

According to a copy of the contract provided to Providence Business News by the R.I. Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner, Gilkey will be paid a $249,036 salary this year. Then, his annual salary will increase to $256,507 starting Feb. 1, 2025, and then $264,202 in the contract’s final year.

Prior to the new contract, Gilkey’s annual salary was $189,999, according to the state’s transparency portal. Also, the council will contribute $40,000 annually to Gilkey’s retirement plan through the contract’s duration.

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Council Chairman David Caprio in an email to PBN said Gilkey received the extension based on his national reputation as a “thought leader in higher education” being an advantage to the state. Among Gilkey’s achievements Caprio noted were increasing postsecondary funding in the state by 49.4% to $65.5 million in the 2024 fiscal year, completing the new Woonsocket Education Center to expand workforce training in northern Rhode Island, and advocating for the establishment of the Hope Scholarship program at Rhode Island College.

“The Council on Postsecondary Education has been impressed by his superb leadership and his ability to broker solutions to some of the most challenging issues facing degree attainment and workforce credentialing during the pandemic and post-pandemic era,” Caprio said.

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.