WPU Celebrates 160 Years of Success on Founder’s Day, March 17, 2017

March 17, 2017

William Peace University is proud to celebrate 160 years of success, following its Founder’s Day celebration on Friday, March 17, where the University welcomed students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends on Main Lawn for an official cake-cutting ceremony.

The Institution was founded in 1857 as Peace Institute, offering education for boys and girls in primary grades and to women from high school to college. The institution then moved to exclusively offering two-year degrees for women. In 1995, Peace introduced Bachelor’s degrees and in 2012 welcomed male students for the first time. WPU is now home to more than 1,000 students and offers 26 majors, and dozens of minors, and concentrations.

Over its 160-year history, WPU has impacted the lives of tens of thousands of students, and has already awarded nearly 2,000 baccalaureate degrees to its outstanding graduates since the late 1990’s.

“It is so important for the members of the WPU community of today to understand our history. We are the manifestation of an idea – we stand proudly on the shoulders of those who have gone before us and take seriously the responsibility to ensure that thousands more experience William Peace – the University – and the idea.”Dr. Brian C. Ralph, President of WPU

William Peace, Our Founder
William Peace founded Peace Institute in 1857
WPU is named in honor of its founder, William Peace, a Raleigh businessman and church elder.

Our founding benefactor was an outstanding citizen of Raleigh, a dedicated church member, a successful businessman, and a generous supporter of worthy causes. He was a respected merchant who owned the mercantile firm ‘J&W Peace” with his brother, Joseph, and was also a graduate of the second class at the University of North Carolina.

In 1816, William Peace helped found and organize the First Presbyterian Church of Raleigh, where he was also elected an Elder. In 1857 and at the age of 84, Mr. Peace donated $10,000 and eight acres of land on which to establish the Peace Institute. The school would offer education for boys and girls in primary grades and for women from high school through college. Later it would be known as Peace College, and now today, the institution bears our founder’s name: William Peace University.

Though William Peace did not live to see the opening of the school, he left a living legacy in the grounds we walk upon. The University remains on it original campus, has retained affiliation with the Presbyterian denomination, and today boasts more than 9,000 living alumni, countless faculty, staff, and supporters, all of whom have crossed the pathways of Peace during their lifetime.

See Founder’s Day Photos

Explore WPU’s History