Craig M. Lewis has been named chief economist and director of the Division of Risk, Strategy, and Financial Innovation at the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Lewis, the Madison S. Wigginton Professor of Finance at Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management, will assume his new role next month.

The Division of Risk, Strategy, and Financial Innovation was created in September 2009 to provide interdisciplinary analysis for policymaking, rulemaking, enforcement and examinations by the commission.

RiskFin, as is called, is the SEC’s first new division in 37 years. The “think tank" takes in the former offices of Economic Analysis, Office of Risk Assessment, and of Interactive Disclosure. The unit's staff members have expertise in economics, risk analysis, finance, law, mathematics and statistics.

Lewis, currently a visiting academic at the SEC, "is a distinguished economist with a clear understanding of the complexities of financial markets,” said SEC Chairman Mary L. Schapiro. He will "help to inject strong data-driven analysis into the SEC’s decision-making process.

Lewis first served as a visiting academic fellow at the SEC from January to July 2010, and subsequently returned in that same capacity in January. He has provided advice on policy issues, worked on developing analytic approaches to identify violations of securities laws, and analyzed the over-the-counter derivative securities market.

Lewis has taught corporate finance and economics since 1983 and has been on the faculty at Vanderbilt since 1986. Before that, he worked for Arthur Young & Co., at the time one of the Big Eight accounting firms.

He has won multiple awards for teaching excellence and has been a visiting professor at Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business, Donau University in Austria, and Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany.

In addition to teaching, Dr. Lewis has published research on volatility in stock and futures markets, margin adequacy, corporate earnings management, corporate financial policy, executive compensation, selective disclosure, and herd behavior by equity analysts.