Under New Name, Peace College Will Admit Men as Students

Sharon Rieger's picture

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.

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.

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.

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