In his Nov. 14 State of the University address, William Peace University President Dr. Brian Ralph discussed WPU’s plans for the future. He highlighted some of Peace’s successes in the last year and how the campus wishes to grow with a Strategic Plan to further enhance student learning at Peace. However, possibly the most exciting news that was unveiled was the introduction of Peace’s Master Plan to renovate and expand the university’s campus.
The Master Plan is an ambitious project in which WPU aims to add new buildings and expand current ones to enhance and grow educational opportunities and campus life.
Peace has worked with two different companies, Odell Architecture and Stuart, to develop a conceptualized illustration on what the university should look like in the coming decades.
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One of the goals for the Master Plan was to construct the campus to make it more inviting. Currently the campus looks a bit secluded and many people who are passing by don’t have a good idea of what makes Peace what it is.
Dr. Ralph stated in his address that he is confident that the Strategic Plan “will be make William Peace University a great story of transformation and will not only be recognized in the Triangle but in the Southeast US.”
Peace’s main concern right now is to construct new residential halls to allow more students to stay on campus. It is predicted that in just the next five years Peace will grow from 800 students to about 1,300.
The master plan includes a new Residential Quad where Bingham Hall currently stands with two new residential halls and an outdoor area. Also, there is a smaller building that acts as a bridge between the two residential halls, similar to how the Flowe Breezeway connects the Flowe and Pressly buildings.
The top floor has an outdoor terrace area for students to relax and the lower floor will have study areas and possibly a new dining option for students. The expansion of the residential space will include a promenade that will connect parts of Person Street district to Seaboard Station district, which will allow students to take advantage of the neighborhoods around campus, such as shopping areas and restaurants.
“Residential halls are our top priority right now and it would take about 18 months to fully construct them once we have the funding and approval,” said Rocky Yearwood, Peace’s VP of Office and Finances, who worked to determine the finances needed for the Master Plan.
Along this promenade will also be a new recreational building that will not only provide volleyball and basketball spaces for athletes, but will also have spaces for fitness, dining options, and a variety of meeting places.
Peace is looking to expand its athletics off of campus by constructing a new sports complex that administration is continuing to explore in the future. This plan also involves expanding and improving current buildings such as Pressley to increase classroom space and open up more opportunities for immersive learning.
New academic buildings will be erected on the opposite side of campus where Main parking lot currently is and will include flexible classrooms and work areas along with utilizing several outdoor areas to further the university’s strategic growth planning.
These academic buildings may serve as places for concentration in Sciences and Technology. They will also be facing Person Street with glass windows to let people who are walking or driving by the university to catch a glimpse of what Peace is doing day to day.
The same will also be done for Kenan Hall which will be redone to have better seating and stage space along with the glass window exterior so that the theatre department will always be in the spotlight.
The Master Plan’s end date goal is in 2040 and the university has already established fundraisers to help move it forward.
“When I first came here six years ago, Peace was undergoing some incredible changes, not all of which were popular,” Yearwood said. “ At that time, there was an article about Peace as ‘the little engine that could.’ I like to think that we will continue that impression, that Peace will be viewed as a school that did, and continues to do, very positive things for its students and for the community.”
While this Master Plan, definitely invites new changes and improvements some students are hesitant about Peace’s transformation.
“This “master plan” is going to be incredibly expensive,” Eboni Harrison, a senior at Peace with a major in Simulation and Game Design. “It looks very nice and it would definitely be an improvement to make the campus a little bigger. But I like Peace the way it is small and easy to get around.”
WPU has accomplished a tremendous amount over the last year through the introduction of 10 new majors, 6 new athletic teams, many new on campus events such as Pacers After Dark, and the renovation of 2nd Belk with the inclusion of the Pacer Hub and Sandella’s. Peace recognizes these successes and wants to push even further to grow the university.
To do this, Dr. Ralph introduced the Strategic Plan, called Believe in Peace, which will serve as the foundation of Peace’s learning program for the future. This plan seeks to make the most out of a student’s education. Some of the plans include creating immersive learning experiences through flexible classrooms, further growing Peace’s partnerships with organizations around the Triangle, creating a digital portfolio program to help students prepare a well designed portfolio for career employment, and much more.
However, Dr. Ralph says that many of the plans and program set out in the Believe in Peace Plan could not all be accommodated through the current state of the university, which is where the Master Plan comes in.