Indiana Wesleyan University celebrates 100 years of higher education
The times, as the old song goes, are indeed a-changin,’ and the way that modern universities nurture, motivate and educate their students has changed as well.
Indiana Wesleyan University is now celebrating its 100th year as one of the lowest-priced—yet highest-quality—Christian universities in the country and the school has certainly seen its own share of changes since its earliest days as the brick-and-mortar Marion University, which began way back in 1920 in Marion, Indiana.
Now, IWU boasts 15 onsite locations in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio, with the Dayton campus, which opened in November 2005, going strong for 14 years now. The Buckeye state also boasts IWU campuses in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus.
Cynthia Sizemore is Indiana Wesleyan University’s regional dean for all of its campuses in the state of Ohio and as such she is no doubt a very busy person. She’s been with the university since 2011 but she says she’s never too busy to make herself available to help one of her many students.
“I live in the Cincinnati area with my husband,” Sizemore says. “And on my business card for the students I put my cell phone number because I try to be available as people might need me. And that’s really important to me.”
“So I make myself available,” she says. “And accessible and one of the ways I do that is that if students need to reach out to me, whether it’s a student that might have concerns over a weekend, or needs help with finding a resource, I’m available—I guess my biggest thing is that I don’t want my students to be concerned. I want to be a resource that’s available whenever they need me.”
Indiana Wesleyan University itself is an evangelical Christian comprehensive university of the Wesleyan Church and is committed to global liberal arts and professional higher education. The university’s system includes IWU Marion, located midway between Indianapolis and Fort Wayne along Interstate 69, where over 3,000 students are enrolled in traditional programs on the 350-acre main campus.
Indiana Wesleyan is also the single largest member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, the largest private college in Indiana, based on enrollment, and one of the largest employers in Grant County, Indiana.
Indiana Wesleyan offers its students more than 80 undergraduate degrees, with 38 graduate degrees and five doctorate degrees as well. Indiana Wesleyan students represent more than 80 Christian denominations and 10 foreign countries from around the world and the school has received national commendations for its innovative adult education program, which began in 1985. Over 10,000 adult learners attend classes through Indiana Wesleyan, either online at the university’s 15 various education centers in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio.
But what does Indiana Wesleyan University have to offer Dayton-area students that other local universities don’t? “We’ve been here since 2005,” says Sizemore. “And we’re proud to offer a wide variety of online and classroom options. We’re friendly to the working adult, to the non-traditional student—for example, we offer classes where the student only has to be on-site one night per week, usually in the evening from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m. or so. When it comes to our nursing programs we have an articulation agreement with Miami Valley Hospital and Premier Health for the RN/BSN program on-site here in Dayton, which has the potential to help fill the currently high demand for RN’s in southwest Ohio.”
Never one to shy away from educational innovation, Indiana Wesleyan first began offering such adult-friendly programs of study in 1985 and it has also been offering students online program options since 1998.
“I feel like we offer not just the classroom settings and online options,” she says, “But we really try to work with our students. We have great library resources. We have academic advising. We reach out to them to meet every area of their needs and we try to work with them if we see them struggling in a particular area. We always try to do what we can to match our resources to them, in many different areas.”
Indiana Wesleyan University has the largest adult education program on any school in the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. In 2008, the council selected Indiana Wesleyan to establish The Research Center in Adult Learning, a joint project.
US News and World Report magazine has named the university as “One of the Top Universities in the Midwest” and the Young America’s Foundation has named Indiana Wesleyan one of the Top Ten Conservative Colleges in the United States for five years in a row.
Indiana Wesleyan also created the Society of World Changers in 2003. Designed to recognize nationally renowned figures who exemplify the concept of “world changers”—those who impact their secular sphere of influence for Christianity—and whose lives can serve as an inspiration to future generations, those chosen to receive the honor are notable and often well-known.
Each year a World Changers Convocation is conducted on Indiana Wesleyan’s Marion campus to induct a new member into the society and celebrate his or her career and list of accomplishments. A life-size bronze bust of each inductee is placed on permanent display in the Society of World Changers Hall of Honor located in the rotunda of the Jackson Library in Marion. Past honorees include such figures as Elizabeth Dole, actor Kirk Cameron, presidential candidate Ben Carson and Christian author Frank Peretti.
Religion and faith definitely make up a large part of the educational environment at Indiana Wesleyan, but providing a number of opportunities for students to achieve success in their chosen field of study is always the final goal. “Besides being Christ-centered, we offer a vast array of opportunities to lead students toward degree completion,” says Sizemore. “We care about our students, and we want to make sure whatever resources they need are made available to them.”
With goals like that, it’s a solid bet that Indiana Wesleyan University will be serving and educating students for another 100 years to come.