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

Indiana Wesleyan University
Former names
Marion College (1920–1988)
MottoCharacter. Scholarship. Leadership.
AffiliationWesleyan Church
EndowmentUS $190,810,563[1]
ChancellorDr. Matt Lucas, Dr. Rodney Reed
PresidentDr. David Wright
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Undergraduates2,969 (Marion campus) / 10,877 (all other campuses)[2]
Location, ,
United States
320 acres (1.3 km2)
NewspaperThe Sojourn
ColorsRed and Gray         
Athletics18 Varsity Teams
NAIA Division II in men's and women's basketball, Division I in all other sports
NCCAA Division I
Crossroads League
MascotWesley the Wildcat

The university system includes IWU—Marion, where nearly 3,000 students are enrolled in traditional programs on the main campus in Marion, Ind.; IWU-National & Global, which includes more than 8,000 adult learners throughout the world who study online or onsite at 15 education centers in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio; and Wesley Seminary.[6]

IWU offers more than 80 undergraduate degrees, 57 graduate degrees and 9 doctorate degrees and students represent more than 80 Christian denominations and 10 foreign countries.[7]



IWU's campus was known first as Marion Normal College (1890–1912) and then as Marion Normal Institute (1912–1918).[8]

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 Ball State University. Because the Indiana Conference of The Wesleyan Methodist Church operated the Fairmount Bible School 10 miles (16 km) south of Marion, local citizens asked them to move to the vacant property and open a normal school in Marion. So from 1918 to 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.[9]

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.

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 IWU National & Global. 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, IWU National & Global 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.

Enrollment in IWU National & Global has grown substantially since 1985 when the first courses were offered. IWU has grown by more than 200 percent since 1990 to educate nearly 14,000 students, over 10,000 of whom are taking courses online or at IWU National & Global's regional Education Centers in Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky. Site-based classes are held at 14 Education Centers: Indianapolis North and West, Fort Wayne, Kokomo, Greenwood, Merrillville, and Marion, Indiana; Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Dayton, Ohio; Louisville, Lexington, and Florence, Kentucky. Programs are also available at a number of learning sites located throughout Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio. Since 1997, most of these programs have been available online.[10]

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.[9]

Barnes served as president from 1987 to 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. Barnes served as the university's first chancellor from 2006 to 2010. In 2006, Dr. Henry Smith succeeded Barnes as president. In 2010, the Student Center was renamed the Barnes Student Center, in his honor.[11]

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 offers the Master of Divinity degree along with other graduate theological degrees and has its own building, a result of the university receiving 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.[12][13]

In 2012, Smith announced his resignation as president and reassignment as chancellor. He was succeeded as president by Dr. David Wright, who was inaugurated in 2013. The 2017 IRS Form 990 filed by Indiana Wesleyan lists Wright's salary as $235,798 with additional compensation of $91,873.[14]

In 2013, the Board of Trustees voted to acquire Wesley Institute (now Excelsia College), in New South Wales, Australia to create IWU's first international campus.[15]

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 nearly 14,000 students enrolled as of 2017. The next largest member, Azusa Pacific University, has approximately 10,000 students as of 2018.


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 Business Administration, and Master of Divinity degrees, along with a doctoral program in Organizational Leadership.[16]

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.[17][18]


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.[19] 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.[20]

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.[21]

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.[22]

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.[23]

Most recently, IWU has been named by U.S News & World Report as one of the best undergraduate teaching programs based on a survey that was conducted in spring 2018.[24]

IWU National & Global has been recognized by websites like,,, and others for the online programs that are available. Some of the most notable programs that have been recognized for their affordability are the Masters in Public Health,[25] Masters in Accounting,[26] Masters in HR,[27] Masters in Counseling,[28] Substance Abuse Counseling,[29] and others.


Indiana Wesleyan's total enrollment has grown from a student total of 2,000 in 1987 to nearly 14,000 in 2017. This growth has made IWU the largest institution in the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and the largest private university in the state of Indiana.

The population of traditional students living in on-campus residence facilities increased from 442 students in 1989 to nearly 2,600 in the fall of 2008. There are nearly 3,200 students (undergraduate and graduate) enrolled at IWU's Marion campus as of 2017.

Enrollment in IWU National & Global's programs has grown from 1,250 students in 1989 to more than 10,000 students as of 2017.[30]

Main campusEdit

Indiana Wesleyan University is noted for its award-winning 320-acre (130 ha)[31] main campus in Marion, Indiana. Since 1990, nearly $250 million has been spent on new construction and renovation, and the campus is valued in excess of $360 million. In the past 30 years, over 50 construction projects have been completed, including more than 15 residence facilities and 16 academic/administrative buildings, along with 11 adult and professional studies structures around the Midwest.[30][32]

Of special note are the university's student residence facilities, including 9 dormitories (all built since 1990) and several apartment structures. IWU was ranked #1 in the 2018 "Best College Dorms in Indiana" list and #16 on the United States list. The university is unique from most colleges in having air conditioning in every room and no community showers in any facility on campus.[33]

The university built the $22 million Chapel Auditorium (where chapel services are held three days a week), which was dedicated in January 2010. With 3,800 seats, it 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. Visiting artists have included Switchfoot, the Gaither Vocal Band, Michael W. Smith, and Lauren Daigle.

In 2016, IWU broke ground on a 2,500 seat, state of the art football stadium that cost approximately $9 million. Wildcat Stadium was completed prior to the 2018 football season.[34]

Education CentersEdit

IWU National & Global is represented in regional Education Centers throughout the midwest in Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky. Site-based classes are held at 14 Education Centers: Indianapolis North and West, Fort Wayne, Kokomo, Greenwood, Merrillville, and Marion, Indiana; Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Dayton, Ohio; Louisville, Lexington, and Florence, Kentucky.

Society of World ChangersEdit

IWU created the Society of World Changers in 2003 to recognize nationally renowned figures who have exemplified 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. Each year a World Changers Convocation is held on IWU's Marion campus to induct a new member into the Society and celebrate his or her 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.[35]


Year Name Occupation
2019 Ernie Johnson, Jr. Sportscaster
2018 Cheryl Bachelder Former restaurant executive
2017 Richard Stearns Former president of World Vision and author
2016 Ravi Zacharias Christian apologist
2015 John C. Maxwell Leadership coach and Christian author
2014 Elizabeth Dole Politician and humanitarian
2013 David Green Founder of Hobby Lobby and Christian philanthropist
2012 Kirk Cameron Actor and Christian evangelist
2011 S. Truett Cathy Founder of Chick-fil-A
2010 Bill and Gloria Gaither Christian singers and songwriters
2009 Joni Eareckson Tada Christian author, radio host, and advocate for disability community
2008 Tony Dungy Former NFL coach and sportscaster
2007 Ben Carson Former neurosurgeon
2005 James Dobson Christian author and founder of Focus on the Family
2004 Frank Peretti Christian author
2003 Robert Briner TV producer, sports executive, and Christian author


The university's music department is most noted for its premier choir, the University Chorale. 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, singing in venues such as St. Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh, Scotland; St Michael and All Angels' Church, Haworth, England; York Minster, York, England; Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, England; St Paul's Cathedral, London, England; Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, Paris, France; and St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City. 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.[36] 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) and competes in the Crossroads League. The Wildcats also compete as a member of the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) Division I level.[37] Men's sports include football, baseball, basketball, cheerleading, cross country, golf, soccer, tennis and track & field. Women’s sports include basketball, cheerleading, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, track & field, volleyball and swimming.

Indiana Wesleyan is the winningest school in Crossroads League history. IWU won the league 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 won the award.[38]


Men's sports began Crossroads League play in 1968 and women's sports began league play in 1986. The university holds the record for Crossroads League championships with 135 titles as of 2018. The university has won 31 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. IWU has won an additional 3 NAIA national championships in 2014, 2016 and 2018 in men’s basketball.[39] The other 26 titles are NCCAA national championships.[40]

Notable alumniEdit


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External linksEdit