Wesleyan University is dedicated to providing an education in the liberal arts that is characterized by boldness, rigor, and practical idealism. At Wesleyan, distinguished scholar-teachers work closely with students, taking advantage of fluidity among disciplines to explore the world with a variety of tools. The university seeks to build a diverse, energetic community of students, faculty, and staff who think critically and creatively and who value independence of mind and generosity of spirit.
Wesleyan University was founded in 1831 by Methodist leaders and Middletown citizens. Instruction began with 48 students of varying ages, the president, three professors, and one tutor; tuition was $36 per year.
Named for John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, Wesleyan is among the oldest of the originally Methodist institutions of higher education in the United States. The Methodist movement was particularly important for its early emphasis on social service and education, and from its inception, Wesleyan offered a liberal arts program rather than theological training. Wesleyan’s first president, Willbur Fisk, a prominent Methodist educator, set out an enduring theme at his inaugural address in September 1831. President Fisk stated that education serves two purposes: “the good of the individual educated and the good of the world.” Student and faculty involvement in a wide range of community-service activities reflected President Fisk’s goals in the 19th century and continues to do so today.
Today Wesleyan offers instruction in 46 departments and 45 major fields of study and awards the bachelor of arts and graduate degrees. The master of arts degree and the doctor of philosophy are regularly awarded in 11 fields of study. Students may choose from more than 900 courses each year and may be counted upon to devise, with the faculty, some 900 individual tutorials and lessons.
Founded under the auspices of the Methodist Episcopal Church and with the support of prominent residents of Middletown, the now secular university was the first institution of higher education to be named after John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. About 20 unrelated colleges and universities were subsequently named after Wesley. Wesleyan, along with Amherst College and Williams College, is a member of the Little Three colleges, an unofficial athletic conference of liberal arts colleges, and is considered a “Little Ivy”.
2013 Net Assets