Mt Pleasant News

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Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 19, 2018

Celebrating the past with a vision for the future

Iowa Wesleyan holds ball to celebrate 175th anniversary
Oct 23, 2017
Photo by: Brooks Taylor Several hundred people jammed into Ruble Arena Saturday night for the IW Purple & White Ball. The event celebrated the 175th anniversary of the university and also provided a glance into the future. IW President Steve Titus, right, presented a Presidental Medal for Outstanding Merit to Christie, left, and Tom, center, Vilsack. Tom Vilsack served eight years in the Obama administration as agriculture secretary and was a two-term Iowa governor as well as mayor of Mt. Pleasant. Christie Vilsack has been very active in women’s and education issues. Performing before the ball was the Iowa Wesleyan Big Band.

By Brooks Taylor, Mt. Pleasant News


For the majority of the past year, Iowa Wesleyan University has been celebrating its 175th anniversary. Saturday evening’s Purple & White Ball not only capped the anniversary celebration but issued a challenge for the future.

Several hundred people, including former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack and his wife, Christie, jammed Ruble Arena for a night of fellowship, celebration and a peek into the future.

“It is great to have everybody here to celebrate an extraordinary thing, celebrating 175 years,” IW President Steve Titus said. “However, tonight is not about the past, but about the future.”

Titus said he wants IW to become the regional comprehensive university of southeast Iowa. “We have worked hard and hope you’ve noticed. The work of this university over the next several years will be to claim the identity of southeast Iowa. This is a great place to live and work. IW will prosper if southeast Iowa prospers, and southeast Iowa will prosper if IW prospers.”

He noted that a strategic plan launched several years ago and set to close in 2020 will be finished and a new strategic plan will receive the focus of those associated with the university.

Meg Richtman, an IW vice president, along with Sara Titus, co-chaired the 175th celebration. Honorary chairs were Richard and Eliabeth Garrels. A 23-member committee also was organized to assist with the festivities.

“I was honored and excited to be part of this” Richtman remarked. “It deepened my knowledge of Iowa Wesleyan.”

Thanking committee members, she said, “It takes a small army of volunteers to plan something. We were blessed with an army second to none.”

A special moment during the ball was the presentation of the Presidential Medal for Outstanding Merit to Tom and Christie Vilsack. Christie is a member of the university’s board of trustees.

Blair Buffington, IW faculty member and master of ceremonies, said the ball “culminates a rich history of our first 175 years. How many other institutions can claim this? …This is a once-in-a-lifetime event and there is a special connection between Iowa Wesleyan and Mt. Pleasant. They say home is where the heart is and for me, there is no place like Mt. Pleasant.”

He said IW is the pre-eminent leader in education for southeast Iowa. “I am proud to be part of Iowa Wesleyan,” Buffington noted.

Titus said mission, aspirations and vision will be the three components in IW moving forward.

Mission, Titus said, is so important and “everything here begins and ends with mission. We create a sense of belonging for those who study here, teach here and work here.”

The president said IW is flourishing, noting that student retention levels have increased to levels not seen for decades, enrollment has shown a dramatic increase and residence halls are full. He said if the trend continues, the residence halls may not have enough beds for next year’s students.

IW’s goal, continued Titus, is to become a top 25 university nationally by the year 2025. “We are going to be one of the top universities west of the Mississippi,” he promised.

Moving to vision, Titus said leadership matters and is a key to the forward movement of the university.

As IW continues its forward progression, Titus issued a challenge: “As we move forward, it must be all of us for Iowa Wesleyan, and all of us for southeast Iowa.”

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