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Kansas Wesleyan University

History and Faith

With faith, perseverance and the support of local businessmen and church leaders, Kansas Wesleyan University opened its doors in 1886. Our history includes many memorable moments that have transformed our students, inspired change and brought us to where we are today. Our university, from the very early days of its existence, was built on a pioneering spirit. Church leaders forged the new Conference of the Northwest, garnering support for a new educational institution within it. Henry Mayo and Daniel McGurk, the first students to graduate, trusted our faculty to deliver.  And they did.

Wesleyan students have learned from some of the most talented and worldly scholars such as Ben Fuson, who went to Iran on a Fulbright Scholarship and attended a world parliament, Paul Stucky, who took students on geology field trips to Colorado and offered study courses in Mexico and Peru, Dr. George Taylor, who later went on to become president of the Saline County historical society, and David Clark, who made it possible for some 300 students and community members to witness Haley’s Comet through a Wesleyan telescope. Then there was Dr. Sue McDonald, who inspired the physics club to launch a weather balloon 96,000 feet in the air, and Dr. Yuan Chiang, who directed a litmus project for NASA that included an attempt to make the paper color change — to purple and gold of course!

In the early days of the university, much of the Wesleyan community held membership at the First United Methodist Church on 8th Street; however, a lack of transportation and unpaved roads made it difficult to attend services, elevating the need for an on-campus church. Space constraints soon spurred conversations of building a stand-alone church across the street. Wesleyan faculty and staff donated a percentage of their salaries to fund the church, which opened in 1917, as University United Methodist Church.

The relationship between Kansas Wesleyan and University United Methodist Church has flourished for nearly a century. Many of the ministers and staff received degrees from Kansas Wesleyan, and many of our students became active members and administrators at the church.  The Lectionary Cross you see today is carried in all formal events on campus. Carved on the cross are the KWU and UUMC letters, symbolizing the strong connection between the university and its neighbor church.

University United Methodist Church has become part of the Wesleyan experience. Together, the University United Methodist Church ministers and our campus ministry staff provide numerous opportunities for faith sharing, prayer and dialogue that allow students of all faiths to feel welcome as they continue to search for meaning in their life.

More than 10,000 students have found the unique blend of academic excellence and spiritual development a perfect foundation for personal and professional growth at Kansas Wesleyan University.


The mission of Kansas Wesleyan University is to promote and integrate academic excellence, spiritual development, personal well-being and social responsibility.

Kansas Wesleyan provides an educational program characterized by excellence, within a caring community, rooted in the liberal arts tradition. The call of the university is to develop both intellect and character, to stimulate creativity and a sense of discovery and to nurture the whole person — body, mind and spirit. Diversity is embraced in curriculum, faculty and students.

Kansas Wesleyan University prepares students not only for careers and professions, but also for lifelong learning. The university equips its students for responsible leadership in their communities, for useful service in and to the world and for stewardship of the earth.

Kansas Wesleyan University provides a setting in which faith and learning are integrated, as an encounter with the Christian proclamation is an integral part of the life of the University. The university fosters the lively discussion of faith and values, encouraging students to develop a thoughtful personal world view informed by Christian tradition.

Kansas Wesleyan University serves the church, community and the world by providing a variety of resources for educational, cultural and spiritual enrichment. The aim of the university is to discover, to build and to share a higher quality of life and a broader vision of the world.

Focused Vision Statement

Kansas Wesleyan University graduates individuals prepared for lifelong learning, success, responsibility and service by integrating excellence in academics, co-curricular activities and experiential learning in a faith-based and caring community.

This focused vision statement is the guiding set of principles that shapes the actions and decisions taken by all members of the KWU community.

Current Students – this vision reminds us of our ultimate goal— to lead rewarding and productive lives. As members of the KWU community, we will diligently work toward graduation and preparation for a lifetime of success in our careers, in our service to community and in our commitments to faith and family. With the support of the KWU community, we acknowledge the deeply valued bond between education, activities and service to the community. KWU students will do our best to honorably reach our fullest potential academically and socially. We will proudly strive to be winners in the classroom, in our sport, in the community and in our personal lives.

Prospective Students – this vision stands as a promise of success, support and a lifelong commitment from KWU. We will experience firsthand our opportunities for academic success, meaningful relationships and learning beyond the classroom.

Alumni – this vision urges us to stand as exemplars of character and service in our careers and communities. We will embrace lifelong learning for ourselves and offer mentoring opportunities to current KWU students whenever possible. As advocates for the University, we remain loyal, connected and philanthropic.

Faculty – this vision drives us to be teachers, advisors and scholars who offer the support each KWU student needs to graduate, ready for a fulfilling life. We will provide an educational experience that bolsters academic and professional skills, promotes curiosity, integrity, critical thinking, resourcefulness, service and stewardship of the earth.

Staff – this vision affirms our goals as a community to provide excellent customer service and enhance communication among all KWU constituents. We will make KWU a community where students can achieve academic and personal success. In all aspects of our organization, we will demonstrate our commitment to and respect for KWU and each other.

Board of Trustees – this vision commits us to be advocates for KWU, support the financial well-being of the institution, support enrollment of students who are prepared and motivated to graduate from KWU, ensure quality and integrity in instructional, co-curricular and experiential learning programs and in university administration, foster a caring and supportive community and uphold KWU ideals of inclusion, compassion and service.

Community – this vision is a pledge that KWU will be a valuable citizen to Salina and the surrounding region and will work to build bridges to the world beyond. KWU will employ its resources and expertise to benefit the community and will welcome opportunities for KWU students to develop their minds, faith and skills as they discover the joy of serving others.