Learning in Community: An Academic Vision
The story of Iowa Wesleyan University is a story of a community; it’s founding, an act of community; its long history, an affirmation of community. Its defining vision draws on a community of memory even as it forges a dynamic future.
More than a century and a half ago, Iowa Wesleyan University was born in a frontier settlement imbued with a yearning for culture, a Methodist-led zeal for education, and a bold, impelling vision. The impulse and the forces for action were at work in the founding of the college.
In January of 1842, a bill “to incorporate a Literary Institute at Mount Pleasant” was passed by the Iowa Territorial Legislature. Trustees were authorized to begin the work of arranging finances, appointing professors and drawing up rules of conduct. On March 11, 1843, nine years after the town was settled, four Mount Pleasant citizens donated twenty acres in four adjoining plots to enable the trustees to “erect a suitable building on some part of the donation, which should be used and forever appropriated as an institution of higher learning.”
Iowa Wesleyan University pioneered daring and unconventional educational policies and practices. Soon after its founding, it admitted and graduated women, its first black student, its first international student and its first female law student who had earlier become the first woman admitted to the bar in the United States. Though Wesleyan’s history records repeated challenges to its stability, resilience and faith in the future have continued to draw the college through turbulent times. Energized and guided by historic memory, Iowa Wesleyan University respects individuality within the context of a community with a common moral purpose, a community that welcomes persons of diverse backgrounds and worldviews. In so recognizing both immediate and global dimensions of civic membership, individual aspirations are tied to the aspirations of all, echoing John Wesley’s declaration “The world is my parish.” Committed to joining the development of the intellect with the realities of life, the Iowa Wesleyan experience values service to others, preparation for a life of rewarding work, and the acquisition of enduring knowledge to enhance the ability to engage in common discourse and appreciate varieties of expression. It fosters a love of learning, a desire for civility, and the release of human potential.