Meet the President’s Cabinet – Dr. James Cousins, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs

Dr. James Cousins became provost and vice president of Academic Affairs in July 2021 after serving in various roles at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, most recently as a history professor and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. He grew up along Philadelphia’s Main Line. When he wasn’t playing basketball, caddying or exploring the city’s historical sites, he read voraciously, particularly science fiction and history. He was drawn to stories of the people from ancient Rome and early America.

Dr. Cousins has published across historical eras, but his specialty is intellectual history. In addition to dozens of conference presentations and over 40 essays, reviews, translations and articles, he has published two books, “Horace Holley:  Transylvania University and the Making of Liberal Education in the Early American Republic,” and “Collaboration and the Future of Education:  Preserving the Right to Think and Teach Historically.”  His forthcoming third book is a history of American college presidents from 1790-2010. This will be followed by a biography of the first president of the University of Chicago, William Rainey Harper, who Dr. Cousins describes as a transformational leader.

Dr. Cousins has received numerous awards for his teaching, scholarship and service. Additionally, he is a former Kentucky Historical Association fellow, a former research fellow of the Filson Historical Society, a former scholar in residence at Transylvania University, and a 2019-2020 American Council on Education fellow.

Accomplishments in Academic Affairs in the last year and a half are many. Cousins introduced a campus-wide retention initiative, including the Faculty Mentorship Program, a one-of-a-kind comprehensive first-year student engagement program. He has built new awards and designations, including the Distinguished Faculty Fellow program, that extend the College’s academic brand through linking emerging scholars, researchers and experts in all areas with Kentucky Wesleyan’s academic programs. Couslns is also responsible for the creation of the Office of Academic Advising, the reorganization of the Student Success Center and a restructuring of the Office of Online Learning.

What’s ahead? The provost is leading the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) fifth-year reaffirmation, due later this year; the College is also in the late stages of development of the introduction of graduate programs; and a strategic plan for the entire College will be undertaken, led by Dr. Cousins.

Dr. Cousins and his wife, Carrie, have been married 11 years and have one son, J.P., who is 6 years old. Carrie owns and operates a chain of coffee shops. Dr. Cousins is a competitive amateur golfer and plays on the Kentucky Amateur Golf Association Tour.

Learn more about Dr. James Cousins here, including issues of Wesleyan Way Perspectives, the James Cousins Show and a documentary on the status of higher education and challenges in higher education produced at Florida Gulf Coast University in Ft. Myers for PBS and NPR.