The oldest higher learning institute west of the Mississippi River says it will be closing its doors for good at the end of the school year.
Iowa Wesleyan University, founded in 1841, will close on May 31st after the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to do so.
Board President Bill Miller cited financial challenges, changing enrollment trends, a significant drop in giving, and the rejection of a request for federal COVID funding by Governor Reynolds as reasons why the university is closing.
Iowa Wesleyan requested $12 million from the state of Iowa’s American Rescue Plan Act funds but the request was rejected by Reynolds in February. In a statement, Governor Reynolds said an accounting firm reviewed the request and found the school had a $26 million United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) loan which could be recalled and require taxpayers to foot the bill. The audit also mentioned ongoing financial concerns with the deteriorating finances of the school.
The university enrolls 878 students and Iowa Wesleyan President Christine Plunkett says the school will work with other institutions to help students complete their studies and will hold graduation ceremonies for seniors.
“Iowa Wesleyan has been a good and faithful servant to the region. And there is much to celebrate amidst our grieving, we have an opportunity to shape our student’s final weeks at Iowa Wesleyan. and I am certain that our campus community and our greater community of Mount Pleasant will be there to support them, and celebrate their accomplishments through the end of classes and graduation.” Iowa Wesleyan President Christine Plunkett
The USDA worked with Iowa Wesleyan to consolidate its debt and will take ownership of the campus on June 1st.