Iowa Wesleyan University to close amid financial issues

MOUNT PLEASANT — The board of Iowa Wesleyan University in Mount Pleasant has voted to close the school at the end of the academic year on May 31st.

Board president, Bill Miller, spoke with reporters on a conference call. “This is a profound decision that will be deeply felt by everyone in our community and throughout southeast Iowa,” Miller says. Miller says they have been considering their options for the past several months.

“This decision follows an intensive analysis of Iowa Wesleyan financial operations and considerable exploration of all feasible strategic alternatives,” he says. Miller says a combination of financial challenges, changing enrollment trends, a significant drop in giving and the rejection of a reuqest for federal COVID funding by Governor Reynolds were all part of the decision.

The Governor released a statement saying the request for 12 million dollars to fund ongoing operating costs came in February. She says an accounting firm reviewed the request and found the school had a 26 million dollar U.S.D.A. loan which could be recalled and require taxpayers to foot the bill. The audit also cited ongoing concerns with the deteriorating finances of the school.

Iowa Wesleyan President Christine Plunkett says the financial pressures were not created by the governor — but they were sad the governor did not take the opportunity to address them. “The information the governor released in her statement is accurate. But our request for funding was to be able to cover operational expenses for a transitional period. As we continue to grow towards a sustainable enrollment number of one-thousand students,” Plunkett says.

The school’s 878 students will be able to complete their studies at other schools and the school will hold graduation ceremonies for seniors. “Iowa Wesleyan has been a good and faithful servant to the region. And there is much to celebrate amidst our grieving, we have an opportunity to shape our students final weeks at Iowa Wesleyan,” Plunkett says. “And I am certain that our campus community and our greater community of Mount Pleasant will be there to support them, and celebrate their accomplishments through the end of classes and graduation.”

She says they have about 110 full time employees, 35 of those are full time faculty, 75 full time staff members and about 74 adjunct faculty. Plunkett says they want students to know they will help them in the transition. “You know, we understand this is troubling and there is a great deal of uncertainty for students and they’re grieving the the anticipated loss of some of their connections with faculty and staff. We are here for them,” she says. Plunkett says they will be hosting a transfer fair on the morning of April 10th. They also going to be hosting an employment fair that afternoon for faculty, staff, and graduating seniors.

The U.S.D.A. worked with the school to consolidate its debt and will take over the ownership of the campus on June 1st.