A Decade of Change


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, or even leans toward more men.

Fall 2022 will celebrate the decade anniversary of the semester when the first male students admitted at WPU. The addition was not without controversy, but has undoubtedly added to the culture 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.

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.

Communication department chair Roger Christman is one of the many current professors who witnessed the evolution on campus. 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.”

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.

Throughout the decade, William Peace University has witnessed a variety of changes, including the arrival of the first men’s sports teams and coaches.

Dawn Dillon, director of the first year experience at WPU and a Peace alum, says the past decade has brought a welcome increase in

Dawn Dillon is an alum and current staff member. Photo by Michelle Porizkova

the diversity of the student body.

“Peace was pretty homogeneous when I was a student,” said Dillon. “I mean, it was a lot of people that looked like me, and had similar backgrounds as me. There wasn’t a lot of diversity in the student body at all other than maybe people that came from out of state or from different parts of the state.”

Ana Galizes, who teaches graphic design classes at WPU, is also a Peace alumna, knwn to the students as Ms. G. She treasured her college experience, but she is also proud of the many changes Peace has incorporated over the last decade, including the addition of men.

“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 University, where she earned 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 State.”

In its long history, Peace has encountered a variety of challenges, and there may always be discord between the past values and
how future generations uphold traditions.