President Steven Titus sent a message to alumni and students early Friday after the Board of Trustees meeting saying the school doesn’t have the money it needs to operate. He told KLlJ Radio today they are trying to find a way to keep the university open. “This is not a decision that has been made, and what I really, really want the community to understand that there is a lot more fight in me and this institution than there is resignation,” Titus says.
He says he knew there were financial issues when he came to the school in 2013 and they have tried to fix that. “We had a really significant hole to dig out of — and we were able to do that to some extent in terms of the success that we’ve had. But the financial underpinnings of the institution I think have always been fragile,” according to Titus. Titus says they were able to enter a partnership with the U.S.D.A. in 2016 to restructure their debt, but had a setback last year when their partner in their online effort went out of business in May of 2017. That took away two million dollars in capital and he says they had to then redirect their U.S.D.A. funding. Titus says they’ve been working on a national fundraising campaign, but haven’t been able to come up with enough money in the short term.
“Today we don’t have the cash to complete the year — which is part of our work,” Titus says. “Now keep in mind we do have resources in our endowment and we are working with the U.S.D.A. and the Attorney General to see if we can access some of that. It seems if we could access some of that, that would make sense to do that rather than lose the institution. Titus says Iowa Wesleyan is facing some of the same problems that other small colleges are facing.
“We’ve had a lot of success on the enrollment and retention. It’s getting more and more expensive for all colleges to enroll students — that is it’s requiring more and more financial aid. We have a lot of our students who are high-need students and don’t have as much ability to pay,” Titus says. He says they are working to change their student profile and increase enrollment with more students who do have the ability to pay.
Titus says they are actively and aggressively pursuing additional funding sources, and new and innovative partnerships, collaborations and supporters to help with the school’s financial situation. The Board of Trustees voted to reconvene on November 15th, to consider the future of the institution.
(Theresa Rose, KILJ, Mt. Pleasant contributed to this story.)