Kentucky Wesleyan College announced Friday that Thomas Mitzel will serve as the institution’s 35th president.
Mitzel has been the president of Dickinson State University (N.D.), since 2015. Mitzel will officially join KWC on Jan. 2, 2020.
During his career in higher education, Mitzel has been a scholar and faculty member, an associate provost, a dean of Natural Sciences, a provost of a nationally ranked liberal arts college, and as President of a small state university. A native of South Dakota, he bolstered Dickinson State University’s Foundation, gaining the confidence of the business community, and building relationships with all constituencies at the University. He also led the University to a top ranking in economic mobility for its students, and it is now one of the leading institutions in the country for the upward mobility of students who come from families in the bottom 20 percent of income.
“I am deeply impressed by the strength of Kentucky Wesleyan College in such a well-rounded manner,” Mitzel said. “The academic programs are some of the best in the nation. Students are also offered the opportunity to be leaders outside the classroom by participation in athletics, community service and pursuing a relationship of their deeper selves and the human existence.”
Mitzel started his career as a faculty member and administrator at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., a nationally ranked liberal arts institution. Mitzel taught organic chemistry there for 12 years, and served three years as associate provost, overseeing curriculum and budget for all academic programs. He then became the dean of Natural Science at St. Edward’s University, a Catholic institution in Austin, Texas, with a service-based mission and record of academic excellence. At St. Edwards, Mitzel worked with university advancement to raise $6.5 million in six months for a new science building in addition to raising an endowment for the institution’s recently acquired Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve. Mitzel then returned to Trinity College as provost, where he helped guide the College through a presidential succession, before assuming the presidency of Dickinson State.
One of six children, Mitzel was raised by a single mother in a small town in South Dakota. He is a first-generation college graduate who attended the state university in his hometown, primarily to compete in athletics as a track and cross-country runner. He later became fascinated by chemistry and went on to earn a Ph.D. in organic chemistry at Boston College, followed by a two-year post-doctoral fellowship at Ohio State University.
Phillip Shepherd, chair of the Kentucky Wesleyan College Board of Trustees, said “As board chair, I am delighted to welcome Dr. Tom Mitzel to the Kentucky Wesleyan family. He has had a brilliant academic career as a top leader in some of the best liberal arts schools in the country. He has a track record as a very student-centered leader who engages students, faculty, staff and the community in the quest for academic excellence. As a first-generation college graduate and student-athlete who competed at the varsity level, he will also be a great role model for our students. We know he will exemplify the values of The Wesleyan Way and build bridges with the community of Owensboro to build a great future for our institution.”
Barton Darrell ’84, president emeritus of Kentucky Wesleyan College, said “Dr. Mitzel and I have already been talking about the momentum we have at Kentucky Wesleyan and our tremendous opportunities. Dr. Mitzel is a perfect fit with the core principles we all know as The Wesleyan Way.”
Sherry Feldpausch ’83, a member of the Board of Trustees, said “I am most pleased to welcome Dr. Thomas Mitzel to lead our campus. Dr. Mitzel has an outstanding record of proven academic leadership. As a trustee, I am looking forward to serving with him to steward Kentucky Wesleyan College. Under his guidance and with the energy and enthusiasm he has demonstrated for the mission of Kentucky Wesleyan, our College will be well served to continue its positive momentum and be able to move to even higher levels of service and achievement.”