The Board of Trustees for Iowa Wesleyan University has chosen to keep the school open even though it faces significant financial challenges. The four-year private institution in Mount Pleasant was founded in 1842. It serves about 700 students.
IWU President Steven Titus previously told Tri States Public Radio the school needed to raise about $4.6 million: $2.1 million for the spring semester and $2.5 million for the 2019/2020 school year.
Then, during a news conference on Thursday, he said the $2.1 million had been secured from a variety of sources. They included a $500,000 donation from a faculty member/alum and a $120,000 contribution from the local business community.
“We have been awed by the extraordinary response at this critical and historic moment. Now it is time to get to work to ensure our future,” Titus said.
“I want to express my deep gratitude and appreciation to our generous community, remarkable students, faculty and staff, and many other supporters – all who demonstrated a unified energy in the past few weeks. We appreciate your gifts, kind gestures, prayers and outpouring of support, all of which will allow us to continue our mission.”
Titus said the college will focus on growing its online and graduate programs, increasing enrollment, and expanding its donor base.
“So we can really invite philanthropic capital to help us build our best initiatives to grow this university,” said Titus.
Titus said the school’s financial challenges were due in part to an increase in the number of students receiving financial aid. He said there are no plans to accept fewer low-income students or offer fewer scholarships. The school will instead promote the need to recruit more higher-income students.
“It may mean we have more and more students with a higher ability to pay,” said Titus. “We need to balance the financial portfolio of our students.”
Titus said he does not anticipate any changes to faculty or staff.
The chair of the Board of Trustess, Annette Scieszinski, said she’s confident in the future for IWU.
“We are very happy to continue the mission of Iowa Wesleyan, which is to educate the next generation of leaders and be an economic engine for southeast Iowa,” said Scieszinski. “Given the current dynamics, the Board recognizes Iowa Wesleyan must evolve and innovate to broaden our reach. We are confident about the future, and will remain vigilant in our efforts to engage a new partner, strengthen the university and fortify our future.”
Scieszinski said the board plans to actively pursue new partnerships to help the school succeed.
When asked how Scieszinski was confident IWU would not be in this situation again, she replied “We are resilient, we are open-minded, and we will make good decisions.”