History of Illinois Wesleyan University

The private liberal arts college Illinois Wesleyan University was founded in 1850 by a group of thirty civic and religious leaders in Bloomington, Illinois. They wanted to establish “an institution of learning of collegiate grade” in the beautiful town of Bloomington, which they figured was an excellent environment for higher learning amongst the fields and open spaces of Illinois. The founders imagined an oasis of higher education in the middle of the country where students could find the best educational environment in the area. The founders sought support and sponsors, and the local United Methodist Church stepped up to help, which is why “Wesleyan” is attached to the name. IWU maintains its Methodist affiliation to this day, but its governance is independent, and the student body remains inclusive and diverse.

Soon after IWU was founded, the explorer and geologist John Wesley Powell joined the faculty. Powell wanted to teach students in the field, and before he went on to found the National Geographic Society, he taught students in the wild, and led an unprecedented trip for college students to the Colorado mountains for fieldwork. Throughout its history, IWU has maintained a reputation for excellent liberal arts and sciences education, with those subjects forming the foundation of the IWU curriculum throughout its history. Today, IWU still offers an excellent liberal arts education and is ranked among the top 40 institutions in the country for study abroad programs.

Eric Gilbert moved from Deerfield, IL to Bloomington to attend IWU. He writes a sports column for the campus newspaper The Argus, is the paper’s Sports Editor and competes on the soccer team. In addition to writing for the paper and playing soccer, Gilbert is focused on his studies. He earned a place on the Dean’s List and hopes to pursue a minor in English to use his writing skills.