William Peace University offers a traditional campus experience in an urban setting

Vanessa Infanzon

Photo by William Peace University

Facts and stats:

William Peace University, an independent private school, was founded in Raleigh in 1857. It’s a coeducational school with a Presbyterian affiliation. The more than 20-acre campus in the heart of a major city provides a traditional school setting with access to city activities and amenities such as restaurants, nightlife, festivals and transportation.

There are 1,034 undergraduate students at Peace, with a new class of about 400 students each year. The average ACT is a 22, and the average SAT is 1022. The application acceptance rate is 60 percent.

Tuition is $28,700, and the average room and board is $10,800 per year. Students are required to live in one of the eight residence halls for the first three years on campus.

There are 28 undergraduate majors, with some of the more popular ones being exercise and sport science, business administration, biology, psychology, simulation and game design and education.

What’s new on campus:

Peace has been busy with construction and renovations. Last year, there were several new additions to the campus:

  • The Pacer Performance Center, an athletic performance and student workout facility.
  • The Center for Student Success in Finch Library, which includes workspace for the college’s first-year experience, tutoring and advising.
  • New basketball court and seating in Hermann Athletic Center.
  • Pacer Hub, a 24/7 student union space with late night dining, lounge seating, collaboration spaces and a conference room.

The coming year will bring a new welcome center that will be used as an admissions space to host and meet with prospective students and families. Plans for the APEX immersive learning center in the Finch Library are underway.

Graduation at WPU. Photo by William Peace University

What’s life like on campus?

Peace is full of opportunities in a tight-knit community with an intimate learning environment, said Ian Dunne, director of communications and marketing. “Our students are absolutely engaged; they’re prepared when they leave; their confidence grows from year one to year four,” he said. “It’s truly transformative.”

The school’s social media campaign on Twitter and Instagram, #prepareatpeace, highlights unique stories about students and alumni. The posts include students who may be attending a conference in their field, participating in a challenging internship or focused on an alum opening a small business. “We show how Peace prepared them to get where they are right now,” Dunne said.

Peace students can join intramural teams, community service programs and student clubs or organizations. Students take advantage of the campus’ proximity to downtown Raleigh and often get discounted tickets from the school or attend the food truck events or pop-up activities. The Durham Bulls and the Carolina Hurricanes call Raleigh home, making it easy to take in a baseball or hockey game.

Peace athletes compete at the NCAA Division III level in the USA South Atlantic Conference. There are 18 sports, including men’s and women’s basketball, women’s volleyball and softball.

What do students like best?

Payton Weller from Wilson is a rising senior at Peace. Weller, 21, is majoring in marketing and is involved in student government, residence life and admissions. She also served as a leader for new student orientation.

Weller was attracted to the small size of the student body at Peace. Most days, she recognizes the people on campus and has found it easy to start friendships. The size of the student body helped her make the transition from home to college when she first started at Peace.

“It’s truly like a family,” she said. “I have very real relationships with my professors. They call me by name; I consistently stop in their office to ask for help or just to say hi. They’re involved in our life.” If she misses class, Weller’s professors will reach out to make sure everything is OK.

Payton Weller from Wilson, North Carolina. Photo by William Peace University

Fun Traditions:

The oldest tradition at Peace is Peanut Week, the week before Valentine’s Day. Students, faculty, staff and alumni are paired with another participant. For four days, they leave gifts for their “peanut” in a central location on campus – keeping their identity a secret. On the last day, there’s a party to give another gift and reveal yourself to your peanut.

Each fall and spring, the campus hosts a cocktail-style party with music and dancing. In September, students dine together at tables of eight. Everyone dresses up and enjoys a family-style meal served by faculty and staff.

What do students like least?

“Some students don’t like that we are so small,” Weller said. “Some wish we were bigger. But we’re just not. That’s not what Peace is.” Weller was attracted to a small school because she graduated from a small high school. She didn’t want to be overwhelmed, and Peace was the right fit for her.

Best advice from a current student:

“Stay on top of your grades, and build your relationships with your professors,” Weller said. “After you take care of your grades, make sure you get involved. For your first year, get involved in one thing that is familiar to you and one thing you are not familiar with. That allows you to build friendships with people who have a common interest, and the unfamiliar allows you to branch out.”

Photo by William Peace University

What surprises people the most about the school?

When Weller gives an admissions tour, she’s noticed how the high school students and their parents are surprised by how many people know her by name and stop to speak with her. It makes Weller’s claim during the tour that it’s a close-knit campus with a family atmosphere that much easier to believe.


Vanessa Infanzon is a freelance writer based in Charlotte. In her former life, she worked in Student Life at Davidson College, UNC Charlotte and Queens University of Charlotte. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook @morethanVMI.