Local News

New University May Be Built In Oxford

Posted May 16, 2006 7:26 a.m. EDT

— Oxford is a fast growing little town of just under 10,000 people. It's full of historic homes on tree-lined streets.

"It's just a nice place to be," said Oxford Mayor Al Woodlief. "It looks like a college town, but we just don't have the college right now."

That may change. Woodlief confirms officials from Triangle Universities have approached Oxford about building a new college there.

"It's going to be a little different than your normal liberal arts four-year college ... to try to show the kids when they graduate why they are going out in the work force," said Woodlief.

If Oxford lands a four-year liberal arts college, it won't be the first time an institution of higher learning has occupied the landscape. St. John's College once occupied a campus in the years around the Civil War. That same campus has been operating for the past 123 years as an orphanage now called the Masonic Children's home. Ironically, the prospective college is looking at some of the orphanage property as a temporary site.

"As I like to tell my friends, if this doesn't light your fire then your wood is wet," said Leon Turner, with Granville Economic Development. "That is the way I look at it, it is so exciting, it really is."

"One reason (a school may be created here) is the name Oxford," said Woodlief. "The other is we are close to the interstate, close to the Triangle area where the professors from the individual universities and colleges could come and help out."

Woodlief said because of recent developments, there is a 50-50 chance of the deal going through. His hopes are still high of a college returning to Oxford.

Oxford was actually home to two colleges in the mid 1800's. A women's college, founded by the North Carolina Baptists, and St. John's College, founded by the Masons.