Under new name, Peace College will admit men as students

Posted July 21, 2011

— After more than a century of educating only women, Peace College will admit men as full-time students next year, officials announced Thursday.

The four-year college near downtown Raleigh also will change its name to William Peace University.

The moves culminate a tumultuous year since Debra Townsley took over as the school's 10th president. She opened up night and online classes to men early this year, cut staff and reorganized academic programs.

Many of the moves were designed to shore up the school's finances and make it more attractive to students, officials said.

Townsley said only 2 percent of female high school seniors consider attending women's college, so opening Peace up to men will broaden its market.

Some single-gender classes will continue to be offered once male students arrive on campus in 2012-13, said Beth Cherry, a Peace alumna and vice chairwoman of the Board of Trustees. The classes will be in disciplines where research shows that women and men learn differently and that each benefit from a single-gender classroom, she said.

“The needs of our students are always changing, and Peace is changing with them,” Cherry said.

Details such as reorganizing residence halls to accommodate men still have to be worked out, officials said.

Peace was founded in 1857 by Raleigh's First Presbyterian Church. William Peace, a local businessman and church elder, provided $10,000 and eight acres of land for the school. It transitioned away from elementary school education in the early 1900s to focus on high school and college courses for women.

The high school program ended in the 1970s, and the school shifted from a two-year to a four-year college in the mid-1990s.

Hope Williams, president of the North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities organization, commended Peace for the radical shift.

"These are challenging times for all of higher education, and Peace has once again chosen the path of moving forward to embrace the future with fresh ideas and new ways to meet the needs of students," Williams said.

Students held a peaceful protest on campus in response to the announcement Thursday night. Members of the choir sang the school's alma mater

Peace College Peace College will admit men as students

In reaction to the news, Meredith College President Jo Allen said her institution would remain women's only. 

"In the 21st century, the role of women in business, non-profits, health care, schools and communities and families remains not only relevant but imperative. Meredith proudly educates women to lead in these critical regional, national and global contexts. We will continue to recruit strong women who want a high quality undergraduate women’s education," Allen said in a statement. 


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  • driverkid3 Jul 22, 2011

    I'm surprised it hasn't already gone co-ed. Women have been suing for years to get into traditionally all male schools, so what's the problem with men going to Peace? You can't have this both ways.

  • North Carolina Home Jul 22, 2011

    "I find it amusing that you assume that those of us who don't understand what Peace means/meant to their students/graduates means that we're envious. Where did you get that from?" minxi23

    So exactly what is your CONCERN that prompted you to post on this story?

  • ProudBlackSingleMother Jul 22, 2011

    Peace Alumni... I like the sound of that.

  • OGE Jul 22, 2011

    As a Peace parent, I am truly saddened and disgusted by this news. The announcement was aired to the public before it was announced to the students, so very wrong. My daughter has loved every minute she has spent at Peace College, it is NOT right that she will not be able to graduate from the college that she had dreamed and planned on. She has maintained a 4.0 her entire time there, with NO boys! Perhaps we will have to transfer down the road a bit to Meredith where they still value a woman's education with her peers.

    Do you really think your angel has never seen a boy while there? So boys aren't her peer? Does she plan on working at an all female business and never deal with a male?

  • BigUNCFan Jul 22, 2011

    Also, people need to learn to deal with others of all types of races, genders, religions, backgrounds, etc. That is why I don't particularly care for private schools, either at the secondary school level or colleges.

    For one, the elite prep schools and universities are almost uniformly white and elitist with some Asian and Indian students and almost no Hispanics or African Americans. That is not real life. I have to think that it will be a big transition for these folks down the road should these people need to be managed by or deal with clients of different races or backgrounds.

    Similary, if you are so distracted by "boys" at 19 or 20 years old that you cannot concentrate on your studies and you need women only settings, then I wonder about your ability two years later to deal with coworkers who may be men.

    There are people, men and women, 19 and 20 in the military risking their lives and you cannot at the same age sit with a guy in an econ class. Hmmmmmm.

  • BigUNCFan Jul 22, 2011

    I am curious how all of the alums would feel about their experience at the school and the money they poured into their degrees if Peace went out of business. I imagine this is the lesser of the 2 evils, change or go under.

    As for the lady that said she graduated from Peace and turned down ECU and NCSU and is now a software engineer, good for her. I, however, think she is in the minority of their graduates performing this type of technical work. Nothing against Peace specifically, but liberal arts education in general. Employers just are not willing to pay for people that do not have specific skills. Liberal arts should be paired with a trade to make a person marketable as they need to be able to write well and do said trade.

    (btw, getting into those schools while nice is not like Harvard or Duke or even UNC. I am basing on US News and WR Best Colleges and Universities survey of entering freshman class credentials).

  • Viewer Jul 22, 2011

    The "adapt or die" imperative when the environment changes applies to social organizations as well as species of animals or plants. Many years ago I attended a very fine private junior college that would not change. It is gone now.

  • vegitalv12 Jul 22, 2011

    "Sounds like some of you would prefer that the college just go under than to have a man attend?

    If thats what you learned there then maybe it should close."
    - Dark_Horse

    Excellent point! My wife is a graduate of Peace, and she is surprised by this news. But, if Peace has to do this to stay open, they have no choice. The college has been undergoing some major renovations over the past few years to attract new students, and they haven't been as successful as they had hoped. I'm sure the board and president did not come to this decision lightly.

    I hate to say it, but this may be Peace's last shot at survival.

  • ProudBlackSingleMother Jul 22, 2011

    Once Meredith gets on board, we will have more gender equality in our area schools.

  • btneast Jul 22, 2011

    Was that a freudian slip?

    Dog, stole my post. LOL.