Leaders of Iowa Wesleyan University in Mount Pleasant say the school will remain open this spring and recruiting for new students will continue. Thursday’s announcement followed word from administrators earlier this month that the school might close because of financial troubles.
Annette Scieszinski, chair of the Iowa Wesleyan Board of Trustees, says alumni and residents of Mount Pleasant rallied around the school. “We are so grateful for the support of the community,” Scieszinski said.
School officials on Thursday also announced the formation of a “New Directions Team” to address needs beyond this academic year. “I think Iowa Wesleyan University will stand as a leader in higher ed for the prospects that we see and the open-mindedness that we exercise in going forward in a changed environment,” Scieszinski said.
A couple weeks ago, University President Steven Titus said the school needed to find $2.1 million to have a spring semester. Students and faculty were among those who helped raise the money to keep the 176-year-old school in business. “I think it speaks of the commitment of this community,” Titus said. “I also think it illustrates how important institutions like this are to rural communities.”
Prior to Thursday’s announcement, Kristi Ray of the Mount Pleasant Area Chamber of Commerce said the loss of Iowa Wesleyan would devastate the local economy. “We’re going to see houses on the markets, you’re going to see sales tax revenue decrease, and we’re going to see students in our public schools that have to leave because their parents were administrators here,” Ray speculated.
Iowa Wesleyan administrators said they’re open to institutional changes, including a potential merger with another school. They say long-term solutions will depend on more donor support and new partnerships with other organizations.
Reporting by Theresa Rose, KILJ, Mount Pleasant & Kate Payne, Iowa Public Radio