Corinne Andersen, chair of the English department, has been teaching at the university for almost twenty years.
With her long history of teaching at Peace, Dr. Andersen was the perfect candidate to have a dialogue with regard to the impact that the co-ed change had on campus.
How would you describe the changes that occurred here at Peace when the school made the drastic shift to co-ed in 2012?
I didn’t really notice any changes in the classroom or with my students; of course, that isn’t to say that changes weren’t happening. However, my world of Peace is mostly inside the classroom, so I didn’t feel any need to adjust my teaching or who I was.
How did you feel about it when Peace announced that it was going to be co-ed? Do you recall people feeling a certain type of way or even being surprised?
It was surprising in that it was a very top-down decision. It came directly from the administration, and they had not asked for any input, not from faculty, students, or even alumni. The trend was that women’s colleges were closing across the country. It was not surprising at all, but the biggest shift was that it just came from the top and was not discussed with anybody otherwise.
How do you think the female students at the time, ones who still had a few years to go at Peace, were feeling about this drastic change?
You know, I’m a teacher, and I’m going to teach the students that I have in the classroom, but it’s very different when you are a student and you are enrolling at a university. You are choosing somewhere that is a right fit for you, and so for the students that had chosen Peace as a women’s college, this was not something they were accounting for. For the alumni groups, it was a bit different, but that same concern was there.
Did you notice some students transferring the following year?
A lot of the students that I was close to felt like they wanted to stay to defend Peace, wanting to keep it a place they enjoyed and felt safe with; they were also very supportive of faculty and wanted to keep those close relationships. Of course, there were probably students that transferred; but in regards to students I knew well, they wanted to keep Peace in the wonderful place it was and grow with the change; they had this sort of gumption about them that I truly admired.
Do you feel that Peace has improved in these last ten years, proving that the change allowed Peace to become a better place than it was previously?
It’s so hard because you can never isolate one change, and there are always so many changes happening. But regardless of those things, I think the faculty here has always been amazing and I think we just keep getting better and better. I think whatever you throw at us we find a way to thrive, and so I’ve always been proud to be faculty here, and I’m always proud of our students.