More than a school: Iowa Wesleyan students fearful, but hopeful about university's future

    Chazz Brown, business major at Iowa Wesleyan University/Beth Waldon

    The Iowa Wesleyan Board of Trustees is expected to meet next Thursday, to discuss the fate of the university.

    Until that happens, several students have chosen to stay positive about the future of their school. They tell KTVO Iowa Wesleyan is more than a school, it's a home away from home. Some have traveled from Chicago, Ecuadoror for others, it was just a trip down the road.

    A lot is at stake this month for not only the students, but the community that surrounds the university.

    Students said they were made aware of their school's financial crisis in an email last Friday.

    "My first thoughts when I heard this was, wow,” said Education/Psychology major Kodi Rundquist. “What's going on, what's happening, why is this happening, and what can we do to stop it?"

    Administrators say the university needs $2.1 million to finish off the spring semester, and $4.6 million to get through December 2019.

    "We're looking much farther than that,” said Meg Richtman, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives. “We're looking at other alternatives for the institution, different partnerships, we want to make sure we get the runway to get our students graduated in May and that's our work right now, that's what we're doing."

    For Iowa Wesleyan business major Chazz Brown, graduation day couldn't arrive fast enough.

    "I actually graduate in May,” Brown said. “When I first got here, never did I think that this would be something I’d have to deal with my senior year.”

    117 of the nearly 700 students enrolled at Iowa Wesleyan are international students, and close to half of that amount are athletes.

    Criminal justice major Bryan Bonilla falls into both of those categories. He traveled from Ecuador two years ago to play soccer for Iowa Wesleyan.

    "Being away from homeit's kind of sad, because you miss your family in Ecuador, but the family that I have met here is amazing," Bonilla said.

    Rundquist's journey at Iowa Wesleyan has just begun.

    "I transferred here last year,” she said.

    But as many students have learned, it doesn't take long to develop a bond.

    "There are people who have relationships here, who built lives here, who established connections that won't ever be erased,” Brown said.

    Administrators are still weighing options.

    "Everything is a possibility,” Richtman said. “We've been with the USDA, we've been with business leaders and partners and alumni and friends and regional partners have been coming forward and we're talking with everyone right now, and that's really all I can share beyond that. We'll just continue all the conversations and bring forward some of those opportunities to the board next week."

    The university received a very generous donation Thursday. Biology professor Dolores Graf Poulter Wilson recently announced that she will be donating $500,000 to her alma mater.

    CLICK HERE to contribute to the Iowa Wesleyan fund.

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