COLUMBUS, Miss. – The W will award honorary doctorates, the university’s highest honor, to two longtime supporters and friends of the university at its commencement exercises Saturday morning.
This year’s recipients are Tom and Connie Kossen of Edwards. Each of the eight public universities in Mississippi is allowed to award two honorary doctorates a year, and the selections must be approved by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning.
Tom Kossen launched Kossen Equipment in 1976 with $5,000 and two employees when he obtained the Kohler distributorship rights for Mississippi. Before the Kossens sold the company in early 2012, Kossen Equipment represented Kohler Power Systems in Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and the Florida panhandle, serving thousands of accounts, including healthcare facilities, telecommunications sites, manufacturing plants, and grocery stores.
Connie Kossen, who is a 1964 graduate of The W, also earned a master’s in church music with an emphasis in voice from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Before joining Kossen Equipment to work with Tom for over 35 years to grow the company to one of the largest generator distributors in the Southeast, she taught private voice and piano lessons and taught classroom music. She has remained active in music, singing over 20 roles with the Mississippi Opera and serving as vice president for artistic advisory with the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra Board and a member of the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra Foundation Board.
She has been very active at MUW, including serving as former treasurer of the Jackson Metro Area MUW Alumni Chapter. She previously served as chairman of the MUW Foundation and has received the Alumni Achievement Award and the Medal of Excellence. MUW named the recently renovated auditorium in Poindexter Hall in her honor.
The Kossens have been very generous to MUW with both their time and their donations. One notable donation is the establishment of the Connie and Tom Kossen Faculty Excellence Award which gives $5,000 each year to a meritorious tenured faculty member at the May commencement.
The Kossens, who have been married for 40 years and have one grown son, are now enjoying retirement.