MOUNT PLEASANT, Iowa (KWWL) – The financial status of Iowa Wesleyan University has many on the edge of their classroom seats.
On November 5, an AP report said the university faced potential closure. But, on November 15, KWWL reported numerous donations were able to keep the private, liberal arts university up-and-running for the next academic year. At that time, the Wesleyan Board of Trustees voted to continue operations after the needed funding was secured from alumni, friends of the university, the community and a collaboration with the USDA Rural Development agency.
But, beyond next school year, the questions linger. Like so many small, private institutions across the country, financial instability is a major problem.
The university has been in operation since 1842, making it one of Iowa’s oldest institutions of higher education. They say they’re actively recruiting for the 2019-2020 academic year, but will need some stable funding to stay afloat.
Iowa Wesleyan President Dr. Steven Titus told KWWL Friday that, since they’ve secured enough money to make it through 2019, they’ll start looking for a way to keep the university going for years to come.
“It was more than about Iowa Wesleyan University. It was about, and is about, the local and regional economy as well. Institutions like this provide a $55 to 65-million dollar-a-year economic impact into the region,” said Dr. Titus.
The university admitted early last month they didn’t have a healthy endowment or extensive donor base to support the day-to-day functions. Titus says that means they must consider partnerships to stay afloat, and that’s a new reality for small schools like Iowa Wesleyan.
“We’re just beginning that process, so I think we’ll learn. We’ve had a lot of expressions of interest over the last month or so.”
Titus says those partnerships might be with schools with more resources, or with private investors.
Both staff and students who have been in contact with KWWL say it’s been a scary time at the university, but they’re staying positive.