Iowa Wesleyan University – One Year On: Where do we go from here?

Iowa Wesleyan University announced its closure on March 28th, 2023, with the final graduating class receiving their diplomas in a formal graduation ceremony on May 6th. Questions immediately filled the air with uncertainty of what was to come. One year later, most of those loose ends have been tied up.

Doug Moore, principal of Highland Group LLC, a Des Moines based company, has been working for the past 12 months on ensuring a smooth transition for the community of Mount Pleasant after the closure of the University. The agreement expires today, and it seems his end of the bargain was delivered. 

The largest chunk of buildings was purchased from the Mount Pleasant Community School District on January 5th, in a purchase that saw 7 buildings change hands. The Howe Student Activity Center, Ruble Arena, Student Union, Old Main, Pioneer Hall, P.E.O Memorial Building, and the University Chapel are now owned by the school district, as well as the practice field just south of Mapleleaf Athletic Complex.

The Old Gymnasium was recently demolished after the City of Mount Pleasant authorized the mayor to sign a nuisance property and abandoned building remediation for the property. The lot will be turned into a green space.

Hershey Hall, along with the dormitories on the east and west side of the campus, and the Science Building, were acquired by IWU Mt. Pleasant LLC on October 17th. Christopher Ales is awaiting approval of an application that was sent into the State in hopes of repurposing Hershey Hall into affordable housing.

The houses that were owned by the college for a variety of purposes have all been purchased. The Belle Center, formally known as the Chadwick Library, is now regarded as a flexible business incubator and co-working space.

Rachel Lindeen, the Executive Vice President of the Mount Pleasant Area Chamber of Commerce, commented, “Our community continues to navigate the change. I’ve been impressed with the adaptability and am excited to see what new becomes of the campus.”

The spring of 2023 saw a task force created to help navigate the challenges ahead. While the first step of listening to the community has been a success, Lindeen has said that the work is not done. However, she is confident that the community will continue to be a place to live, work, and play.

The question still looms, “where do we go from here”? It’s important to remember that the community of Mount Pleasant is not, and never was, Iowa Wesleyan. The perseverance of the citizens is what keeps this town moving forward, and one year later, things are looking up.