After 181 years, Saturday’s graduation ceremony will be Iowa Wesleyan University’s last celebration for a graduating class, the final one.
But as Iowa Wesleyan’s time comes to an end, the University leaves behind a long and rich history of higher education and a legacy of former students who have gone on to do big things in this world, and in Burlington as well.
On March 28, citing over $26 million in debt to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and failed attempts to convince Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds to sign off on an additional $12 million loan, the University’s Board of Trustees voted to close the University at the end of the academic year.
After May 31, the University will cease all operations and the campus will become the responsibility of the USDA.
While it is unclear at this time what the USDA will do with University’s properties once they take over, Iowa Wesleyan’s closure has left University students (over 850) and employees (an estimated 110 full-time staff and 74 adjunct faculty) looking for new schools and new employment.
The University’s closure is also certain to have an economic impact to Mount Pleasant, a town with just over 9,000 residents and the surroundings areas. A 2017 study by the Hanover Research estimated that Iowa Wesleyan had an estimated $55 million yearly impact on the southeast Iowa region.