Iowa Wesleyan University future uncertain

University's board of trustees hold special session to discuss institution's financial health

Iowa Wesleyan University’s board of trustees have scheduled a second special session to discuss the future of the university as the institution faces significant financial challenges, according to its president.

University President Steven Titus posted a letter to the university’s website Thursday, Nov. 1, stating the board of trustees will convenience for a second special session on Nov. 15, to discuss whether the institution has the finances to stay open.

“The university does not have a healthy endowment or extensive donor network,” Titus wrote in the letter. “We have attempted to secure funding to establish a solid financial base. Unfortunately, several anticipated gifts simply have not materialized.”

In March the university held a “Retro Radiothon” which was reported to raised $1 million.

In the letter, Titus acknowledged the conversation of closing the institution may be surprising for many as the university has seen increased enrollment and retention in the last few years, as well as new programming.

In 2018, the university saw it’s fourth consecutive year of growth. Previously, The News reported the university had a 6 percent enrollment growth this year, with 70 percent retention of students from the fall of their freshman year to fall of their sophomore year. Persistence — overall retention of students throughout their undergraduate career — is just over 69 percent, exceeding IW’s target of 63 percent persistence for the year.

“At this moment, the university does not have the required financial underpinnings to bridge the gap between strong enrollment and new programming, and the money needed to keep the institution open.”

The letter came on the heels of a board of trustees meeting on Thursday, Nov. 1, in which the trustees reviewed the financial projections of the university. Titus wrote the discussion was “tremendously difficult” and will continue in 14 days.

During that time, Titus said university officials will meet with the USDA regional business and community leaders to “explore alternatives.”

“These decisions may have a profound impact on students, faculty, staff members as well as the entire southeastern Iowa community,” wrote Titus. “Iowa Wesleyan’s economic impact to the southeastern Iowa region is over $55 million annually. We feel a strong responsibility and commitment to continue the mission of Iowa Wesleyan University.”

The full letter can be found here:

The News will have more information as it becomes available.