By Dezarae Churchill
Typically, when a WPU student introduces themselves, Raleigh reactions tend to follow with “the all-girls school?”
A decade ago, the halls of ‘Peace College’ were filled with chatter about the arrival of male students, and how that was going to affect the Peace community. Today, many Raleigh citizens are unaware that the attendance of male and female undergraduate students is split fairly evenly.
As the popularity of all-girls institutions subsided, women’s institutions were closing throughout the country during the mid-2000s. Peace made the decision to admit men into the institution to reinvent the college and increase admission rates.
In 2011, the board of Trustees voted unanimously to accept male students into the traditional undergraduate program, subsequently renaming the college William Peace University. The School of Professional Studies had been accepting male students since 2009.
Fall 2022 will celebrate the decade anniversary of male students at WPU. The addition of male students was not without controversy. However, male students have undoubtedly added to the culture and inclusivity on campus.
According to the registrar at WPU, the demographics for Fall 2021 were 47% women and 53% men in the traditional undergraduate program. However, female students are still leading the School of Professional Students with 81% enrollment rate.
Blake Privette is a senior arts administration major who transferred to WPU from Wake Tech during his junior year. He was inspired by his friend who graduated from WPU with a degree in simulation and game design in 2018. Privette does technical work for the theater productions and enjoys the community that Peace has fostered.
“I am really glad [Peace] decided to go co-ed, otherwise I wouldn’t be here,” said Privette. “I think education in general benefits from both male and female perspectives.”
He chose to attend WPU after transferring because he was a fan of the small classroom sizes and enjoys the ease of building relationships with students and faculty.
WPU is home to professors that graduated from Peace College, and professors who have witnessed the evolution on campus.
Communication department chair Roger Christman has been a professor at the university for over a decade. He believes the integration of male students was critical to the success of the university.
“Our mission is to prepare our students for careers and organizations of tomorrow, and there’s very few organizations out there that don’t have both sexes at the workplace and their environments,” said Christman. “I’m grateful that we transitioned.”
Ana Galizes is an alumna known to the students as Ms. G, who treasured her experience at WPU and returned to teach communications.
Christman inspired Galizes to become a professor at WPU. She is proud of the changes Peace has incorporated over the last decade.
“They’ve added some great and relevant majors,” said Galizes. “I think we’re good at innovating as a school and have the ability to do that because we’re a smaller school.”
English Department Chair Corinne Andersen welcomed the change to become a four-year institution and the admission of male students. However, she was aware of the potential discord that was to follow with such a drastic change.
“That’s where you felt the most concern, both in student groups and in alumni groups because it was drastically changing what their choice was,” said Andersen.
Kathryn MacCormack is an alumna of the class of 1984. She has fond memories of the sisterhood she created within the walls of Peace College.
She graduated with an Associate of Arts and transferred to NC State and has a master’s in secondary sciences in concentration biology. She now works as a high school science teacher.
Ever since she was a little girl she dreamed of going to Peace College. She loved the campus and community so much that she even decided to get married here and will always treasure the memory of sliding down the banister in Main in her wedding dress.
However, she did not support of the university going co-educational. Four years ago she returned to campus and recalls a different feel to the campus.
“I felt like those girls are going to be losing out,” said MacCormack of current students. “The bond that I had with some of my Peace sisters… I just felt like males being there were going to disrupt that a lot… I didn’t feel like there were distractions there like there were when I went to (NC) State.”
Throughout the decade, William Peace University has witnessed a variety of changes, including the arrival of the first men’s sports teams and coaches.
There will always be a discord between the past values and how future generations uphold traditions.
A core mission of Peace has been to create an environment that fosters a love for learning that extends beyond this campus and travels with students throughout the duration of their lives.
Timeline by Jacob Trump