Alums protest changes at Peace College

Posted July 24, 2011 5:54 p.m. EDT
Updated July 24, 2011 11:37 p.m. EDT

— Hundreds of alumnae gathered on the campus of Peace College in Raleigh Sunday to voice concerns over the administration's decision to change the college's name and admit male students next year.

Class of 2000 alumna Jamie Averette Mitchell called changes to the 154-year-old women's college, which will be called William Peace University starting in the fall, a "travesty."

Others lamented that the school failed to consult to alums before going forward.

"When all of us learned the news this week of the decisions by the board of trustees, we were very alarmed," said Lisa Mickschutz Chappell, class of 1987. "We were not advised before the media heard."

Peace College President Debra Townsley said the decisions boil down to economics.

"We know that two percent of women will look at a women's college. That means 98 percent won't," she said. "We're also not appealing to any men, so you lose a large portion of that market as well."

Protesters said that the single-gender education they received at Peace helped shape their lives and they are concerned about how admitting men will change the college's academic mission.

"To be disrespected and not given an opportunity to speak about out dissatisfaction, it's an ultimate insult," said Billie Burney-Scott, class of 1987. 

Demonstrators asked that college officials open a dialogue with alumni about the changes.

In her year-long tenure as president, Townsley has tried to secure the college's financial footing with staff reductions and the streamlining of some academic programs. She said admitting men is just another measure to bring in more money.