Peace University president plans for growth

Posted May 28, 2013

— Debra Townsley has had an eventful three years as president of William Peace University, the private downtown college transforming itself for the next generation of college students.

Her term began with layoffs aimed at keeping the college afloat in the aftermath of the economic recession. Then, the board of trustees voted to allow men as undergraduates in the college and, within months, they also changed the name of the 150-year-old university to better reflect its baccalaureate and dual-gender status.

In 2012, Townsley welcomed the first men to campus, one third of the college’s second largest incoming class ever. She and the board began to plan new facilities and a master plan for the campus’s future.

In recent weeks, the college put its hat in the ring for the bankrupt Seaboard Station retail center. Townsley says it’s an attempt to bolster the college’s real estate holdings, but neighbors and tenants fear the center’s future with Peace as an owner. They issued a letter May 21 asking Peace to withdraw its bid for the property.

Townsley’s administration has been criticized for its lack of transparency in making big decisions, like the name change and the bid for Seaboard. But she opened up one recent day for Q&A with the Raleigh Public Record. Townsley shared her thoughts on the college’s recent successes, its future plans and, of course, the drama over Seaboard.


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  • JoCo50 at MXR May 31, 2013

    I suppose this means that they'll open registration to even more felons who can barely read and write.

  • mayhem May 30, 2013

    McCrory can sell them the Archdale Building. McCrory's administration isn't using it for anything.

  • Boylan May 30, 2013

    I like Seaboard as is too but if Peace can buy it good for them. Too many people in this City want to 100% dictate what others should be able and not be able to do with their property.

  • Cock a doodle doo May 29, 2013

    I agree with NJDEVISFAN, this is a business matter, if Peace can get this prime piece of property on the cheap, good for them.

    Maybe all the beloved owner that exposure102 listed should come together and form a company to counteroffer on the defunct property they reside in.


    The college needs space and if they can get the "bankrupt" Seaboard Station retail center good for them. Whose to say what any other buyer would do with it? If you can't buy it then stay out of it.

  • exposure102 May 29, 2013

    Peace needs to stand down. That center houses Tyler's, 18 Seaboard, ACE Hardware, Seaboard Wine and many more shops. The owners/creditors need to get their situation worked out but we don't want to lose these shops/restaurants to irresponsible Peace who will obviously doze the property.

  • whatelseisnew May 28, 2013

    well it is good to see a university actually end real discrimination.