Illinois Wesleyan University

Illinois Wesleyan University is an independent, exclusively undergraduate liberal arts college in Bloomington, Illinois. Founded in 1850, the central portion of the present campus was acquired in 1854 with the first building erected in 1856.

Illinois Wesleyan University
MottoScientia et Sapientia (Latin)
Motto in English
Knowledge and Wisdom
TypePrivate university
Endowment$ 222 million (FY 2014)
PresidentS. Georgia Nugent
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Location, ,
United States
82 acres (324,000 m²)
ColorsGreen      White     [1]
Sporting affiliations


The university was founded in 1850 as a private four-year college in Bloomington, Illinois.[2]


Illinois Wesleyan is an independent, residential, liberal arts university with an approximate enrollment of 1,700.[3] It offers over 80 majors, minors and programs.[3] The university maintains a low student/faculty ratio of 10 to 1, with an average class size of 15[4] Also, more than 9 in 10 IWU students receive a scholarship or need-based assistance.[5] Illinois Wesleyan is also a member of the Annapolis Group and its strong foundations in the liberal arts have earned it chapters in the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies.

The university consists of the College of Liberal Arts, with 17 academic departments; the College of Fine Arts that includes three professional schools—the Ames School of Art, School of Music and the School of Theatre Arts; and the School of Nursing. Illinois Wesleyan's campus occupies approximately 82 acres (330,000 m2) a short walk north from downtown Bloomington in central Illinois.

IWU's School of Nursing was established in 1959. Applicants apply directly to the School of Nursing and typically graduate in 4 years with a BSN. The course work emphasizes clinical placement and individualized education and experience.

Bachelor's degree programs are offered in three colleges:[6]

  • College of Liberal Arts: 17 departments and 7 interdisciplinary programs, organized in 1906
  • College of Fine Arts: Schools of art, music, and theatre arts organized in 1929, 1946, 1947 respectively
  • School of Nursing: Established in 1959

Ames Library

Illinois Wesleyan's Ames Library was completed in 2002. It contains over 368,000 volumes spread over five floors. The Ames Library also houses 8 sets of stained glass panels originally from Pembroke College at Oxford University. Among the special collections are the papers of former U.S. Representative Leslie C. Arends; the Gernon collection of first editions of detective fiction and mysteries; and the Schultz collection of 18th and 19th Century British drama, including The Beggar's Opera. Construction cost $25.7 million; Shepley Bulfinch Richardson and Abbot were the principal architects.[7]

May Term

Illinois Wesleyan offers a May Term course option. The university refers to it as a 4–4–1 system. This allows any student who has completed a full course-load in either the Spring or Fall Semesters of that academic year to enroll in a May Term class.

May Term classes last approximately three weeks during the month of May. Students take several hours of instruction in the same course each day for five days each week. This allows the students to immerse themselves in that one topic. At the end of the May Term a student completes the equivalent of a single course during one semester.

May Term emphasizes curricular experimentation, and also offers an opportunity for service projects, study-abroad, and internships.[8]

Study abroad

Illinois Wesleyan offers a number of study abroad opportunities, and ranks in the top 40 schools in the nation for students studying abroad.[9] IWU's International Office provides support for over 300 global Study Abroad Options in 70 countries through various institutes such as IES and SIT Study Abroad. Domestically, IWU offers a UN semester, a Washington Semester, and the Associated Colleges of the Midwest Chicago Program. Internationally it offers programs in London and Barcelona.[10] It also maintains a very strong relationship with Pembroke College, Oxford, and traditionally a few juniors can spend a year there as exchange students.[11]


The university publishes several different undergraduate research journals in the fields of Political Science, Economics, History, and English.[12] Perhaps the first of its kind, the Undergraduate Economic Review is a student-managed, open access journal that has published original undergraduate content from students in the U.S. and at least 15 other countries.[13] Its 'internal twin', the Park Place Economist publishes original work of Economics seniors graduating Illinois Wesleyan University. Articles range from basic topical explorations to focused senior research. All published volumes are available online.[14] The John Wesley Powell Student Research Conference was established in 1990 to provide opportunities for students to present research projects and findings in a public and interactive manner.[15] The Action Research Center (ARC) was established in 2004 to partner student research and service projects with the wider Illinois community.[16]



Illinois Wesleyan University participates in the NCAA's Division III and is a member of the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW). Illinois Wesleyan teams have won 136 CCIW Titles and 6 Division III National Championships. Illinois Wesleyan has produced 117 Academic All-American student athletes since the program began in 1970, a total that is tied for 13th among all participating colleges and universities, regardless of NCAA division.[17]

Illinois Wesleyan University's Division III athletic teams, known as the "Titans," helped found the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW) in 1946. Illinois Wesleyan was a member of the Illinois Intercollegiate Athletic Conference from 1910–1937.

The Titans have 22 varsity teams, 11 men's and 11 women's, with the addition of men's and women's lacrosse in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

Shirk Center

Shirk Center is the university's athletic complex. The two-story 135,000-square-foot (12,500 m2) complex was constructed in 1994. A 20,000-square-foot expansion was opened in 2016. The Shirk complex provides a multi-use facility for squash, tennis, basketball, and other indoor sports. It also houses Fort Natorium, the university's swimming center, as well as classrooms and a six-lane, 200-meter track.[5] The Shirk Center also hosted the 2010 & 2011 NCAA Division III Women's National Basketball Championships.[18] The "Shirk" is also the championship venue for the annual State Farm Holiday Classic, one of the largest, coed high school holiday basketball tournaments in the nation.

Division III NCAA National championships

  • Men's
    • Basketball – 1997
    • Baseball – 2010
    • Golf – 2019
  • Women's
    • Indoor Track & Field – 2008
    • Outdoor Track & Field – 2008, 2010, 2016
    • Basketball – 2012

Campus life

The university and Student Senate regularly bring speakers and comedians to campus. There are regularly organized social events both on and off-campus. Faculty colloquia regularly provide opportunities for intellectual discussion and encouragement. The campus itself is an arboretum, home to over 1,000 trees from 90 different species.[19]

Residential living and community

All halls are co-ed, all residence hall rooms have cable television and wireless Internet, and the vast majority of rooms are two/three-person units. Dodds Hall offers eight-person suites and Harriet Fuller Rust House offers four-person and six-person suites as well as two eight-person two-story townhouse style suites.[20][21] Traditional style living is offered in Magill Hall and Pfeiffer Hall. First-year students live in first-year halls: Gulick Hall, Munsell Hall, and Ferguson Hall. Illinois Wesleyan also offers two themed housing communities: Kemp Hall (the International House) and Blackstock Hall (the Arts House).[22] Nearly one-third of the campus community is involved and/or resides in one of five fraternities or four sororities. Students are also able to live in The Gates (est. 2013), and The East Street Apartments (est. 2006) which are modern, apartment-style residences that students can sign as leases.

Campus activities and organizations

There are 200 student organizations at Wesleyan, ranging from the rock-climbing club, the Anime club, to Pi Kappa Lambda (the music honors society).[23]

Lectures and speakers

Illinois Wesleyan co-hosts the annual Stevenson Lecture Series, initiated in 1965 as a memorial to former Governor Adlai Stevenson. IWU co-hosts the Lecture Series with Illinois State University.[24]

Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke at the university twice, in 1961 and 1966.[25] In 1966 he came to the university while he was trying to organize in Chicago. There, he said,

And I still have faith in America because I love America and I believe that we will continue to build a coalition of conscience that one day will solve this problem. We sing a little song in our movement and it has been our guiding faith. Sometimes we’ve been facing hooded perpetrators of violence; sometimes we face jeering mobs. Sometimes we face dogs and the gushing waters from fire hoses. Sometimes in crowded jail cells we join hands to sing it. And sometimes in just open mass meetings. But we could sing it as a hymn of faith. We shall overcome, we shall overcome, deep in my heart I do believe we shall overcome. [26]


Illinois Wesleyan has its own radio station, WESN 88.1 FM. It plays a mix of Indie, Rock, Classic, Electronic, and Folk music.[27] Wesleyan also has its own Television station: Titan TV, broadcasting exclusively to IWU's residence halls. It broadcasts a collection of movies and campus announcements. The campus newspaper is called The Argus, published continuously under student supervision since 1894.[28]

Notable alumni

Notable faculty


IWU's Minor Myers, jr. Welcome Center, opened in 2008, and State Farm Hall, opened in 2013, include geothermal heating/cooling systems.[37] The Welcome Center was awarded Silver Certification as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building.[38]

The university's "Think Green" behavioral change campaign encourages community members to conserve resources,[39].


  1. "Traditions | Illinois Wesleyan".
  2. Colleges in the Midwest. Petersons. 2009. p. 51. ISBN 9780768926903.
  3. "Academics | Illinois Wesleyan".
  4. "Facts | Illinois Wesleyan".
  5. "Viewbook". Issuu.
  6. Illinois Wesleyan University website, "Degrees and Majors", accessed 12/06/2007.
  7. Ames Facts IWU
  8. "May Term | Illinois Wesleyan".
  9. , Open Doors Report.
  10. "".
  11. "".
  12. "Research | Illinois Wesleyan".
  13. "Browse Journals and Peer-Reviewed Series | Digital Commons @ IWU | Illinois Wesleyan University Research".
  14. "The Park Place Economist | Illinois Wesleyan".
  15. "John Wesley Powell Research Conference | Illinois Wesleyan".
  16. "IWU Magazine - Spring 2010 - Action Research Center | Illinois Wesleyan".
  17. "Boudreau Elected First Team Academic All-American®". Illinois Wesleyan University Athletics.
  18. "DIII Women's College Basketball - Home |".
  19. "IWU Tree Map".
  20. "".
  21. "".
  22. "Residence Hall Introduction | Illinois Wesleyan".
  23. "Registered Student Organizations | Illinois Wesleyan".
  24. "Stevenson Lecture Series, Illinois Wesleyan University | IWU Special Events | Illinois Wesleyan University".
  25. "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Fellowship Dinner and National Holiday Gospel Festival | Illinois Wesleyan".
  26., at Illinois Wesleyan University, courtesy of WJBC, 1966.
  27. "WESN".
  28. "The Argus". The Argus.
  29. "Idaho Governor H. Clarence Baldridge". National Governors Association. Retrieved September 19, 2012.
  30. "Jack Sikma Stats".
  31. "Buffalo Jones". Retrieved September 4, 2010.
  32. "Illinois General Assembly - Senator Biography". July 13, 1955. Retrieved October 20, 2019.
  33. "Bob Morrow Stats".
  34. "Khan '93 Describes Path to Oscar Punditry | Illinois Wesleyan".
  35. "Tari Renner | Illinois Wesleyan".
  36. "Tari Renner | City of Bloomington, Illinois".
  37. "Sustainability | Illinois Wesleyan".
  38. "Campus Photo Tour | Illinois Wesleyan".
  39. "IWU Efforts to Conserve Resources". Illinois Institute of Technology. Retrieved June 8, 2009.

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