Kentucky Wesleyan College announces plans for presidential transition

Dr. Thomas Mitzel, president of Kentucky Wesleyan College, has announced that he will depart on July 1, 2024, to return to South Dakota. He will remain as a consultant through December 31, 2024. Dr. James Cousins, currently provost and vice president of academic affairs, will assume the presidency on July 1. In January, Dr. Mitzel announced his plans to retire at the end of December 2024, and in April, the Board of Trustees appointed Dr. Cousins to succeed President Mitzel in January 2025.

“Rhonda and I have family needs in South Dakota, and these needs must take precedence,” said Dr. Mitzel. “I am pleased, but not surprised, that Dr. Cousins has worked diligently with the cabinet, campus community and Board of Trustees to assemble and implement plans for the College’s future. I am impressed with the speed at which he has undertaken these tasks. His strong leadership abilities enable us to return to our family, and though we are appreciative, it is difficult to leave the KWC family, whom we love.”

Chair of the Board of Trustees Fred Wright ’80 said, “The trustees are deeply indebted to Dr. Mitzel for his strong leadership during the last four and a half years. He has served with determination, passion and kindness since his arrival in January 2020, immediately prior to the pandemic. We hate to see the Mitzels leave, and we will miss them, but we respect their desire to return to their family. We are also pleased that Dr. Cousins is ready to assume the responsibilities of the presidency. He is immensely capable and well prepared for his new role.”

“I am grateful to Dr. Mitzel for his leadership over the past four-plus years,” said Dr. Cousins. “The landscape of higher education has never been more uncertain, but under his guidance, Kentucky Wesleyan stands on firm footing. I am eager to build on these foundations and excited to advance the shared interests of our campus community.”

Dr. Cousins began his career as a history and Latin teacher at Millersburg Military Institute in Millersburg, Ky. He has held teaching appointments at Kentucky State University, Berea College, Eastern Kentucky University and most recently, at Western Michigan University, where he was a history professor and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. He holds a bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University, and both an M.A. and PhD from the University of Kentucky.