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Announcement of Closure & Closure Date


On Tuesday, March 28, 2023, Iowa Wesleyan University’s Board of Trustees announced that Iowa Wesleyan would not enroll students for the 2023-24 academic year and would cease educational operations after the Spring 2023 semester. Operations ceased on Wednesday, May 31, 2023.

Oral History Project

If you ordered merchandise or a hardbound book, they shipped in the summer of 2023.
If you participated in the project and have any questions, please contact the Publishing Concepts Client Experience team at or 1.800.982.1590 (toll-free).
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Iowa Wesleyan University History


The historic founding of Iowa Wesleyan University is rooted in the religious, educational, and cultural aspirations of early settlers in the frontier settlement of Mt. Pleasant. Their aspirations were shaped by an impelling vision and a bold determination to build an institute of learning in the rapidly developing southeast corner of the Iowa Territory. On February 17, 1842, the Territorial Legislature granted a charter for the Mt. Pleasant Literary Institute, later named the Mt. Pleasant Collegiate Institute.


On March 8, 1843, Aristides Joel Priest Huestis, a New Englander by birth, signed a contract, the first dated document of the Institute, to act as Agent for raising money and supervising construction of the Institute Building. Three days later, four Mt. Pleasant residents donated twenty acres of land in four adjoining plots so that trustees could “within three years from this date erect a substantial building on some part of said donation, which building shall be used and forever appropriated as an institution of higher learning.”


Nearly three years later, in their minutes of November 11, 1845, trustees record: “Resolved by the board of Trustees we deem it expedient to elect a faculty and open a school on the first Monday in January next.” On that same date, they also named Huestis the President of the Institute. Classes began in the Institute Building, now known as Pioneer Hall, with two professors: President Huestis, who taught Natural and Moral Science and belles lettres, and Johnson Pierson, who taught ancient languages and literature. Mathematics was added to the curriculum later that year.


James Harlan was named President of the Institute in 1853. Known as a man of national and political interests, Harlan, an Iowa City lawyer, and businessman was determined to advance the educational status of the Institute. He successfully raised funds to construct a second building, now Old Main, and expanded the curriculum, adding political economy and theology, as well as piano, drawing, French and German classes. At his urging, on February 15, 1855, the Institute’s name was changed to Iowa Wesleyan University to emphasize its enlarged college program and its sponsorship by the Iowa Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, granted in 1849.


The first college-level graduate of Iowa Wesleyan was Winfield Scott Mayne, who earned a B.A. degree in 1856. In 1859, Lucy Webster Killpatrick was the first woman granted a B.A. degree at Iowa Wesleyan. Belle Babb Mansfield, the first woman to be admitted to the bar in the United States, graduated from Iowa Wesleyan in 1866. Susan Mosely Grandison, the first female black graduate, earned her degree in 1885. Keyroku Miazaki from Tokyo, Japan, attended 1890- 91, was the first documented international student. In 1958, Iowa Wesleyan graduate James Van Allen ‘35 discovered the earth’s radiation belts; these radiation belts now bear his name and allowed modern space travel to the moon allowing Iowa Wesleyan graduate and NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson ‘81 to become the first female commander of the International Space Station. She set numerous records on four missions in 2002, 2007-08, 2016-17, and 2023.


On July 1, 1912, Iowa Wesleyan University became Iowa Wesleyan College. Through the years, the College has pioneered in such features as coeducation, the laboratory approach to teaching in the sciences, and service learning, adopted in 1967. More recently it has implemented an experiential learning program that integrates its Life Skills emphases with service learning and career experience into each student’s education. To prepare students for responsible citizenship and fulfilling careers, this program combines a broad-based liberal arts curriculum with community service learning opportunities and field experience in the chosen field of study. In May 2015 the institution readopted its earlier name of Iowa Wesleyan University to better reflect its role in serving the students, communities, and businesses of southeast Iowa.


Iowa Wesleyan maintained a close affiliation with the United Methodist Church, from which it derived its sensitivity for spiritual values in social justice and human welfare, local, national, and international. In its distinctive role among the many institutions of learning in America, Iowa Wesleyan held fast to the ideals of its founding vision, while fostering creativity and the pursuit of truth in its curricular framework of Learning in Community.


IW Vision, Mission, and Core Values



Iowa Wesleyan University is a transformational learning community whose passion is to educate, empower and inspire students to lead meaningful lives and careers.



As the higher education leader for Southeast Iowa, Iowa Wesleyan University will continue to provide relevant liberal arts and science degree programs with an engaging experience for all students, while preserving its historic commitment to diversity and inclusion. In carrying out its mission, the University will serve as a catalyst for regional economic development through innovative partnerships with area schools, government, healthcare, businesses, and industries.


Core Values


Learning & Community

We value a love of learning, a desire for civility, and the release of human potential for the sake of the common good.

Faith & Service

We honor spiritual values, social justice, and the welfare of the human community through civic engagement and service to one another.


Discovery & Action

We value the discovery of the self, the other, the broader world, and responsible action in response to those discoveries.


Courage & Passion

We value learning in community and appreciate that these endeavors require bold risk-taking; and we value and celebrate that these endeavors are fueled by the passions, desires, and aspirations of our members.

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