Professor appointed to Gray’s staff

By Brian Shlonsky

One of UK’s own is the latest piece of the puzzle in Mayor Jim Gray’s administration.

On Jan. 4, Gray announced the appointment of UK social work professor Beth Mills as Commissioner of Social Services.

Mills, also the Director of Field Work for the College of Social Work, has been a professor at UK since 2004, and received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UK.

Mills said her experiences at UK will prove invaluable as she transitions into her new position.

“I mainly placed students in agencies for the past six years, and by doing that I got to know how agencies really work,” Mills said.  “I have made a whole lot more social services contacts at UK and met professors that can help, so UK really helped broaden my network.”

Gray also recognized the importance of Mills’ UK background.

“Beth was educated at UK and is now coming back to City Hall after working at the University since 2004,” Gray said.  “The wide range of experience she gained there, on top of the experience she gained here, made her an outstanding candidate to lead our Department of Social Services.”

Mills said her new position gives her a chance to be creative and work to have a great social service community in Lexington.

“I will help make policy changes and work with the people of Lexington to find the best outcomes,” Mills said. “Times are tough; a lot of people aren’t working, there are a lot of youth in the community in detention, so it’s a critical time and I look forward to making some of those changes in Lexington.”

According to a UK news release, Mills worked in social services for more than 14 years prior to joining the College of Social Work faculty at UK in 2004, serving as the director of the Lexington Senior Citizens Center, director of Urban County Government Division of Adult Services and interim commissioner of Urban County Government Department of Social Services.

“My whole career has lead up to this,” Mills said. “I’ve been a director, a professor and a social worker, and this may be my last job.  What a great way to end your career, everything built up to this point, I’d be able to finish my social work career on a great note.”

Mills said her favorite part of being a professor was the chance to interact with students.

“My joy has been teaching students, and once things get rolling I will be taking social service student interns,” Mills said.  “I can’t leave my students.”

According to the news release, in addition to Gray’s appointment of Mills, UK Law Professor Chris Frost was appointed as chair of Gray’s transition committee, and UK business professor Merl Hackbart was appointed as a member of the transition committee.