About Illinois Wesleyan University
Founded in 1850, Illinois Wesleyan is a highly selective liberal arts university with an enrollment of 2,100. Wesleyan has long been known for its outstanding faculty, distinctive liberal arts curriculum, the personal attention it gives students, and its beautiful and welcoming campus. The University is located in Bloomington, Ill., a city of 65,000 that is located just two hours south of Chicago and north of St. Louis.
Illinois Wesleyan's distinctive curriculum encompasses 50 majors and programs, ranging from the liberal arts, business, fine arts and nursing to pre-medicine, pre-law, pre-engineering and more.
With an average class size of 17, and an 11 to 1 student-faculty ratio, students get the personal attention that only a top liberal arts institution like Illinois Wesleyan can deliver.
9 in 10 students ...
Each year over 90 percent of Illinois Wesleyan freshmen come back for their sophomore year, and better than 9 in 10 graduating seniors complete their degree in four years. These are two student success measures in which we take great pride.
IWU was founded in 1850 by 30 civic and Methodist Church leaders who agreed to establish "an Institution of learning of Collegiate grade."
Preparatory classes, started in the fall of 1850, ended in 1919 as public secondary education increased. College classes began in 1851. The central portion of the present campus was acquired in 1854. IWU's first building – Old North Hall – was erected in 1856 and served for 110 years before it was removed in 1966 to make way for Sheean Library. Hedding Hall – also known as "Old Main" – was built in 1870 and destroyed by fire in 1943, spurring post World War II campus development.
Explorer-geologist John Wesley Powell, a one-armed Civil War veteran and a founder of the National Geographic Society, joined the IWU faculty in 1865. He was the first U.S. professor to use field work in teaching science. In 1867, Powell took IWU students to Colorado's mountains – the first expedition of its kind in the history of U.S. higher education.
The Board of Trustees took formal action to invite black students to enroll at IWU in 1867 and women in 1870.
IWU operated a School of Law from 1873-1928. Among its nearly 1,000 graduates were Sen. Scott Lucas (D-Ill.), U.S. Senate majority leader during President Harry Truman's administration, Idaho Gov. H. Clarence Baldridge, Wyoming Gov. Lester Hunt, University of Arizona President J. Byron McCormick, and Sigmund Livingston, founder of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith.
Seventeen of IWU's large buildings have been constructed since World War II and the oldest building on campus – Stevenson Hall – dates to 1910. The Shirk Center, an athletic and recreational complex, opened in the fall of 1994, the Center for Natural Science Learning and Research opened in the fall of 1995 and a suite residence hall and refurbished Center for Liberal Arts were completed in 1996. The five-story Ames Library opened in 2002, along with the Hansen Student Center, which was originally built in 1922 as the Memorial Gymnasium and was renovated into a center for student life.
The College of Liberal Arts was organized in 1906. In the 19th century, schools of music, art, and oratory were established.
Music has been taught at IWU since 1876, however, it was not until 1919 that a program leading to a bachelor's degree was instituted. The School of Music is located in Presser Hall, constructed in 1929.
The School of Art was organized in 1946 and a School of Drama (since renamed the School of Theatre Arts) was established in 1947.
The College of Fine Arts – combining art, music, and theatre arts – was established in 1948.
The School of Nursing was established in 1959. During the preceding 35 years, nursing study had been offered in conjunction with the Brokaw Hospital School for Nurses.