Business owners say they’ll feel impact of Iowa Wesleyan University closing

Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 10:51 PM CDT
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MOUNT PLEASANT, Iowa (KCRG) - On Tuesday, Iowa Wesleyan University leaders announced they would be closing the school after 181 years of higher education in Mount Pleasant.

School President Christine Plunkett said much of the issue stemmed from low enrollment numbers, a lack of donations, and not receiving federal ARPA funding from the state.

Business owners said the loss would be felt around the entire community.

Roger Beckman and his brother Dale have owned Main St. Pizza in downtown Mount Pleasant for 32 years.

“We have some students that come once or twice a week,” said Roger.

Beckman estimated that about 20% of his business comes from the student population. School leaders said about 800 students enrolled at the university, its employees, and 110 staff.

“We won’t have that influx of students anymore,” said Roger.

Those students, like Carlos Rodriguez and Santiago Quintana, were having to find a new place to study and play sports.

“This was the only offer I had,” said Carlos. “It’s hard to get recruited for soccer. You either need an agency or get a coach to help.”

The school announced it would be working with four other universities so the students could continue their education: the University of Dubuque, Upper Iowa University, William Penn University, and Culver Stockton College. Rodriguez said this would likely end his soccer career, and he’ll continue his education back home in El Paso, Texas. Santiago, on the other hand, had a lot more questions being an international student.

“My paperwork is very different,” he said. “I need to get the new option, or I need o go back to Columbia.”

The USDA will take ownership of the campus at the end of the school year. Roger hoped if any good news was to come out of Wesleyan shutting down, that the building could be repurposed for the community.

“Hopefully, they won’t want to hold onto it and let the cobwebs grow,” said Beckman. “Hopefully, something good will come out of it.”