William Lewis Jr., Virginia Tech’s first Rhodes Scholar and a retired partner of McKinsey & Company, will receive his alma mater’s University Distinguished Achievement Award.

Presented at commencement, the award recognizes a man or woman of national distinction in a field of enduring significance to society.

Lewis, who also holds a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Oxford University, was founding director of McKinsey Global Institute, the firm’s economic think tank. McKinsey & Company is one of the nation’s leading management consulting firms.

During his career, Lewis has held policy-making positions in the U.S. Department of Defense and as acting secretary with the U.S. Department of Energy. He served in the World Bank for four years and was associate provost at Princeton University.

His 2004 book “The Power of Productivity” drew international acclaim, and he has authored more than two dozen articles. His writing has appeared in global publications such as the Economist, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal.

Lewis resides in Carmel, California, with his wife Jutta. In retirement, he has remained active with multiple non-profits, and he has dedicated time to serving on boards for the National Bureau of Economic Research; the Committee for Economic Development; the American Friends of New College, Oxford; and the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula.

The son of a Virginia Tech professor of agronomy, Lewis was raised in Blacksburg and has maintained strong ties to the university, including serving as an advisor to the College of Science and the University Honors program.

Lewis also serves on the advisory board for the Department of Physics. He was inducted into the College of Science Hall of Distinction in 2013 as one of 12 alumni in the hall’s inaugural class.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

Share this story