Illinois Wesleyan University, founded in 1850, enrolls about 2,100 undergraduates in the College of Liberal Arts, with 17 academic departments, and in the Schools of Art, Music, Nursing and Theatre Arts. The University has been mentioned favorably in a number of annual college guides – The Fiske Guide to Colleges called IWU the “…the perfect place for multitalented students to thrive” and listed the school as one of only eleven “Best Buys” for private institutions; Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges, the Princeton Review, and Peterson’s Competitive Colleges also rank IWU highly, and Washington Post education editor Jay Matthews, author of Harvard Schmarvard, listed IWU as a top ten “hidden gem” after surveying hundreds of high school teachers and guidance counselors across the country, asking for colleges that excelled at student-centered teaching.
Emphasizing a distinctive liberal arts curriculum as the central feature of every student’s education, IWU also provides opportunities for professional and pre-professional preparation. The student-faculty ratio of 12-to-1 means that the University’s students are active participants in their education, often working individually with faculty members on research. As a residential university, Illinois Wesleyan provides a vibrant campus environment in which rich co-curricular offerings complement the primary academic mission.
About 30 percent of each graduating class goes on to graduate school, with recent alumni accepted into law schools, medical schools, and in other advanced degree programs.
New Facilities. The $25 million Ames Library, a place where books, journals and other materials of intellect and culture are complemented by exciting computer and information technology, opened in 2002 and the recent $6 million renovation of the Memorial Gym has resulted in the Hansen Student Center, a facility designed to meet the social, recreational, and educational needs of IWU students.
IWU’s attractive and well-maintained 73-acre campus saw approximately $51 million in new construction in the 1990s, including the Shirk Center for Athletics and Recreation (1994), the Center for Natural Science Learning and Research (1995), the Center for Liberal Arts (1997) as well as a residence hall, accommodating 118 students in suite-like apartments (1997).
The Shirk Center was funded in part by a $5 million gift from the Russell and Betty Shirk Foundation of Bloomington. The Shirk family owns Beer Nuts, Inc.®, the Bloomington-based snack food company. The two-level, 135,344-square foot complex seats 2,274 in its performance arena, and contains four multi-use courts for tennis, volleyball, basketball, as well as racquetball courts, a 200-meter track, a training room and wellness center and other facilities.
In 1999 the Jack Horenberger Baseball Field was opened, which paved the way in 2000 for new softball and soccer fields.
The science center has 15 technologically-equipped classrooms, lecture halls, and seminar rooms; 18 teaching labs; 27 research labs; and facilities for computers. The Center for Liberal Arts houses 60 faculty offices, classrooms, and facilities for social science, humanities, business and economics.
Distinguished Speakers. IWU has hosted a number of outstanding speakers, including former U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen, authors Maya Angelou and Kurt Vonnegut, and film directors Kevin Smith and Spike Lee.
Accomplished Alums. Illinois Wesleyan alumni of distinction include Edward B. Rust, Jr., ’72, president and chief executive officer of Bloomington-based State Farm Insurance; Dawn Upshaw ’82, a two-time Grammy-award winning singer with the New York Metropolitan Opera; Frankie Faison ’71, who has appeared in the films “Silence of the Lambs”, “The Thomas Crown Affair” and “Coming to America”; Akito Mizuno ’74, senior managing director of Mizuno, the world’s largest sporting goods company; Steve Vogel ’68, author of the best-selling true crime book “Reasonable Doubt”; and Richard Jenkins ’69, who portrayed Nathaniel in a recurring role in the award-winning HBO series “Six Feet Under.”