Houghton College president, Shirley Mullen, and Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) president, David Wright, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on November 18, 2013, indicating their intention to explore a partnership that would draw on each other’s strengths for the benefit of all their students. While this move reflects a growing trend within higher education, it is the first such formal agreement among the educational institutions owned by The Wesleyan Church.

IWU is known for both its robust and successful adult education, and an online degree program that has an average of 7,000 students annually. According to the MOU, “IWU and Houghton will explore opportunities for IWU to assist Houghton in their development of adult and online programs throughout New York and the region.”

Houghton has developed a reputation of service both nationally and internationally with over 50% of st udents studying in off-campus programs prior to graduation. Houghton is also touted as a highly-relational campus, recently earning a top ranking of four out of four stars for quality of life by the Fiske Guide to Colleges. In reciprocation, the MOU states, “Houghton will assist IWU in the further development of its service learning, international, and student services efforts.”

“Our proposed partnership with Indiana Wesleyan University reflects one of the ways institutions are preparing for the changing environment in higher education,” said President Mullen. “Working together, both institutions will be better able to address the range of needs in our constituencies.”

Houghton and IWU each have a long history of providing the opportunities of a high quality Christian education to those who can most benefit from that education and who leverage that education to impact the church and the world. Together, they bring the strengths of a comprehensive university, nationally recognized for its pioneering work in adult and online education, and a nationally ranked liberal arts college with a long established track record in integrating public service, co-curricular programming and global engagement into a transformative educational experience.

“Houghton has done great work developing service learning classes, student services, and programs to serve international students,” said President Wright. “Those are three of their great strengths, and we want to learn from them.”

Exploratory conversations are expected to outline plans for implementation, pending approval of their respective boards of trustees. This cooperative venture will strengthen the impact of each institution both inside and outside The Wesleyan Church and hopefully inspire larger cooperative efforts within the world of Christian higher education.