Indiana Wesleyan University

Indiana Wesleyan University
Former names
Marion College (1920-1988)
Motto Character. Scholarship. Leadership.
Type Private
Established 1920
Affiliation Wesleyan Church
Endowment US $107.3 million[1]
Chancellor Dr. Henry Smith
President Dr. David Wright
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Students 15,872[2]
Undergraduates 2,969 (Marion campus) / 10,877 (all campuses) [2]
Postgraduates 4,560[2]
Location Marion, IN, United States
Campus Suburban
345 acres (1.40 km2)
Newspaper The Sojourn
Colors Red and Gray         
Athletics 18 Varsity Teams
NAIA Division II in men's and women's basketball, Division I in all other sports
NCCAA Division I
Nickname Wildcats
Mascot Wesley the Wildcat
Affiliations CCCU
Crossroads League

Indiana Wesleyan University (commonly referred to as IWU) is a private, evangelical Christian, liberal arts university headquartered in Marion, Indiana, that is affiliated with the Wesleyan Church denomination. IWU is the largest member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and the largest private university in Indiana.[3][4][5]


IWU's original campus was known first as Marion Normal College (1890–1912) and then reopened as Marion Normal Institute (1912–1918).[6]

In 1918 the Marion Normal Institute relocated to Muncie, Indiana, and merged with the Indiana Normal Institute. After the union failed, the buildings and grounds were purchased for the State of Indiana and formed the basis for Indiana State University-Eastern Division. Because the Indiana Conference of The Wesleyan Methodist Church operated the Fairmount Bible School 10 miles (16 km) south of Marion, a group of local citizens asked them to move to the vacant property and open a normal school in Marion. So from 1918–1919 the conference raised $100,000 to endow the school, moved the Fairmount Bible School to Marion, and added a new teacher education program to become Marion College. The actual year of incorporation was 1919; however, the first classes were not offered until the fall of 1920, which became the official year of inception.[7]

From 1920 to 1988, Marion College operated as a developing liberal arts institution with growing programs, offering the Bachelor of Arts and the Bachelor of Science degrees since the first graduating class of 1921. A Master of Arts in Theology was begun in 1924 and offered continuously until 1950. Master's degree programs were initiated again in 1979 in Ministerial Education and Community Health Nursing. Master's degree programs were begun in Business in 1988, in Primary Care Nursing in 1994, and in Counseling in 1995.

A new administration was initiated by the Board of Trustees with the presidency of Dr. James Barnes in 1987. The name of the institution was changed to Indiana Wesleyan University in 1988, reflecting the influence of the institution across the state - well beyond the boundaries of the city of Marion, its connection with The Wesleyan Church and Christian higher education, and the development of increasing numbers of graduate programs.[7]

Having already established a liberal arts college, in 1983, University leadership decided to begin offering courses and degrees to working adults during evening hours and Saturdays, forming what would eventually become the College of Adult and Professional Studies (CAPS). This decision proved to be very successful and massively affected IWU's future, eventually eliminating the school's sizable debt and funding the revitalization and expansion of the Marion campus, transforming the college into a major evangelical Christian university. To this day, the CAPS provides the majority of the funding used in campus renovation and construction projects, keeping student tuition at a relatively low level compared with other similar colleges.[4]

Enrollment in the CAPS has grown substantially since 1985 when the first courses were offered. IWU has grown by more than 200 percent since 1990 to educate more than 15,000 students, over 12,000 of whom are taking courses online or at IWU's CAPS educational centers in Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky. Site-based classes are held at 11 education and conference centers: Indianapolis (2), Fort Wayne, Shelbyville, Kokomo, and Columbus, Indiana; Louisville and Lexington, Kentucky; and Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Dayton, Ohio. Classes are also held at more than 80 off-campus locations in Indiana.[8][9]

On July 1, 2006, Dr. Henry Smith succeeded Dr. James Barnes as president of IWU. Dr. Barnes served as president from 1987–2006 and is credited with transforming IWU from a small, struggling Christian college into one of the largest and most successful evangelical Christian universities in the world. Dr. Barnes served as the university's first Chancellor from 2006-2010. In 2010, the Student Center was renamed the Barnes Student Center, in his honor.[10]

In 2008, the Board of Trustees approved a motion to begin the process of establishing Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University, an evangelical seminary affiliated with both the university and the Wesleyan Church. In 2009, the seminary was approved and accredited and opened for the fall 2009 semester. It currently offers the Master of Divinity degree along with other graduate theological degrees and now has its own building, after the university received a substantial donation from the Green family, owners of the Hobby Lobby corporation. Wesley is the first officially affiliated seminary in the history of the Wesleyan Church.[11][12]

IWU is the largest private university in Indiana. Among the 105 members of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (the main organization of evangelical colleges in the U.S. and Canada), IWU is its largest member with more than 15,000 students enrolled as of September 2008. The next largest member, Azusa Pacific University, has approximately 8,000 students.

On June 30, 2013 President Henry Smith announced his resignation. He was succeeded by Dr. David Wright, who was inaugurated on October 12, 2013[13]

On October 4, 2013, the Board of Trustees voted to acquire Wesley Institute (now Excelsia College), in New South Wales, Australia to create the IWU's first international campus.[14]


The university offers various liberal arts (including 87 undergraduate majors) and professional educational programs leading to the Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Music, Master of Arts, Master of Science, Master of Education, Master of Business Administration, and Master of Divinity degrees, along with a doctoral program in Organizational Leadership.[15]

In 2000, the university organized its academic structure into three colleges; the College of Arts and Sciences (traditional four-year liberal arts education), the College of Graduate Studies (traditional semester-based graduate degrees), and the College of Adult and Professional Studies (non-traditional, accelerated programs for working adults). In 2009, the university realigned its academic structure into five Principal Academic Units: the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Adult and Professional Studies, the Graduate School, the School of Nursing, and Wesley Seminary.[16][17]


In 2007, the university was named "One of the Top Universities in the Midwest" by U.S. News and World Report, ranked 62nd among 138 schools. In the 2008 edition, IWU jumped up to 31st in the rankings and in the 2009 edition, the university moved up to 28th.[18] In the 2010 edition, Indiana Wesleyan was moved to the new "Regional Universities" category and the university was ranked 33rd out of 172 universities in the Midwest region. In the 2011 edition, IWU moved up to 28th. Also in the 2011 edition, IWU was ranked 11th among Regional Universities in the "Great Schools, Great Prices" section of the report.[19]

In 2013, the university again moved up in the U.S. News and World Report rankings. It now ranks 17th out of more than 150 universities in the Midwest.[20]

The university has been named one of the "Top Ten Conservative Colleges" in the U.S. by the Young America's Foundation five years in a row.[21]

The university has the largest adult education program in the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. In 2008, the CCCU selected IWU to establish The Research Center in Adult Learning, a joint project with the CCCU.[22]


Indiana Wesleyan's total enrollment has grown substantially over the past 20 years, from a student total of 2,000 in 1987 to over 15,000 in 2008. This rapid growth has made IWU the largest institution in the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, the largest private university in the state of Indiana, and the fastest-growing university in Indiana.

The population of traditional students living in on-campus residence facilities has increased from 442 students in 1989 to nearly 2,600 in the fall of 2008. Currently, there are more than 2,800 undergraduate students and more than 800 graduate students enrolled at IWU's Marion campus.

Enrollment in the College of Adult and Professional Studies programs has increased more than 900 percent, from 1,250 students in 1989 to more than 12,000 students in the fall of 2008.[6]

Main campus

Indiana Wesleyan University is noted for its award-winning 345-acre (140 ha)[8] main campus in Marion, Indiana. During the past two decades, nearly $250 million has been spent on new construction and renovation, and the campus is valued in excess of $360 million. Since 1990, over 50 construction projects have been completed, including 20 residence halls and 16 academic/administrative buildings, along with 11 adult and professional studies structures around the Midwest. A Fort Wayne-based architectural firm, Design Collaborative, designed the majority of the campus facilities.[6][23]

As the university has continued to grow, new facilities have been built. Chief among them has been a US$22 million University Chapel (where required chapel services are held 3 days a week). The groundbreaking ceremony was held in April 2008, and the chapel was dedicated in January 2010. With 3,800 seats, the new chapel is one of the largest theaters in the Midwest. As one of the largest facilities of its kind in the nation, it was designed to attract major events to Marion, such as musical artists, speakers, and conventions. A few months after opening, the IWU Chapel was the site of a concert by the band Switchfoot.[24][25]


The university's music department is most noted for its premier choir, the University Chorale, directed by music department chair, Dr. Todd Guy. Throughout the year, the eighty voice ensemble regularly travels to many states, singing in churches across the country and performing before thousands of people each year. Most notably, the Chorale has performed several times at the internationally recognized Crystal Cathedral in Orange County, California and Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The group has also toured throughout Europe on several occasions, and recently was selected to sing at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. The choir is made up of students in a variety of majors. Auditions are held at the beginning of each school year as hundreds of students audition for the open spots.[26] Other ensembles at IWU include University Singers, University Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, One Voice, His Instrument, and Master's Praise. These groups perform on campus and regionally on a regular basis. Throughout the school year, students also perform a wide variety of solo and joint recitals. The Phillippe Performing Arts Center is home to the IWU Music Department.


Indiana Wesleyan is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) (NAIA Division II for basketball) and competes in the Crossroads League, formerly known as the Mid-Central College Conference (MCCC). The Wildcats also compete as a member of the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) Division I level.[27] Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cheerleading, cross country, golf, soccer, tennis and track & field; while women's sports include basketball, cheerleading, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, track & field and volleyball.

The Indiana Wesleyan Wildcats are the winningest school in Crossroads League history. IWU has won the Conference Commissioners Cup a record twelve consecutive years, and placed among the Top 20 in the NAIA United States Sports Academy Directors' Cup Standings 13 straight years. The university was awarded the 2008 NCCAA President's Cup as the best overall athletic program in the nation, and shared the award with Cedarville University in 2009, the fourth time IWU has won the award. IWU has also won more than 10 national championships in the last five years.[28]


The men's sports began MCC play in 1968 and the women's sports began MCC play in 1986. The university holds the record for MCC conference championships with 121 titles. The university has 26 national championship titles, including 2 NAIA national championships from the record-setting 2006-2007 women's basketball team that went 38-0 and the 2012-2013 women's basketball team. In 2014 and 2016 the Men's basketball team won the NAIA Division II National Championship.[29] The other 23 titles are NCCAA national championships.[30]

Notable alumni


  1. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on March 8, 2014. Retrieved March 2, 2014.
  2. 1 2 3 "2012 Spring Term Enrollment Summary". Retrieved 2013-05-29.
  3. "Profile for Indiana Wesleyan University". HigherEdJobs. Retrieved 2012-11-30.
  4. 1 2 "Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, IN - IWU". 2010-09-21. Retrieved 2012-11-30.
  6. 1 2 3 "Christian College Indiana Wesleyan University - The IWU Story | Indiana Wesleyan University". 2006-07-01. Retrieved 2012-11-30.
  7. 1 2 Elder, Marjorie. The Lord, The Landmarks, The Life. Marion: Indiana Wesleyan University, 1994.
  8. 1 2 "Quick Facts About Christian College in Indiana IWU | Indiana Wesleyan University". Retrieved 2012-11-30.
  9. "Indiana Wesleyan University". Retrieved 2012-11-30.
  10. Indiana Wesleyan University
  11. "Indiana Wesleyan University" (PDF). 2012-11-01. Retrieved 2012-11-30.
  13. Beigh, Derek. "Indiana Wesleyan University Inaugurates President". Indiana Economic Digest. Chronicle-Tribune. Retrieved 2014-07-25.
  14. Indiana Wesleyan Expanding to Australia, (10 July 2013), at the Wayback Machine (archived June 10, 2015)
  16. "Evangelical Christian University Committed to Liberal Arts and Professional Education | Indiana Wesleyan University". Retrieved 2012-11-30.
  17. "Academic Structure | About | Indiana Wesleyan University". Retrieved 2012-11-30.
  19. Indiana Wesleyan University (2010-08-19). "IWU Moves Up in US News College Rankings | 2010 | News | Indiana Wesleyan University". Retrieved 2012-11-30.
  21. Archived from the original on July 24, 2011. Retrieved March 29, 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  22. "Center for Research in Adult Education". Council for Christian Colleges & Universities. 2013. Retrieved August 4, 2013.
  23. "Distinctives | About | Indiana Wesleyan University". Retrieved 2012-11-30.
  24. "is for sale @". Retrieved 2012-11-30.
  27. Indiana Wesleyan University Athletic Department
  29. Bos, Matt (18 March 2014). "NAIA men's basketball: Indiana Wesleyan downs Midland for title". Journal Star. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
  30. Indiana Wesleyan University Athletic Department - Quick Facts
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