History

Through 160 years, William Peace University has evolved to meet the changing needs of the students we serve.

William Peace University was founded in 1857 as Peace Institute, offering education for boys and girls in primary grades and to women from high school to college. Once a two-year college for women, WPU has evolved into a four-year, coeducational university, offering bachelor’s degrees in more than 30 majors, minors, and concentrations.

Our mission is to prepare students for careers in the organizations of tomorrow. Rooted in the liberal arts tradition, our students develop an appreciation for life-long learning, a focus on meaningful careers, and skills for ethical citizenship.

1857

Founding of the Peace Institute, offering education for boys and girls in primary grades and to women from high school to college. Named in honor of William Peace, a Raleigh businessman and church elder, who pledged $10,000 to the Rev. Joseph M. Atkinson in trust for the First Presbyterian Church.

1872

Opening of Peace Institute after delays due to the Civil War and Reconstruction. The First Presbyterian Church regained ownership of the property and repaired the Main Building.

1878

R. Stanhope Pullen, a local businessman and philanthropist, who owned the eight acres of land the campus is built on, signed over ownership of the property to the Peace Institute.

1940

Peace offered an academic program for young women that encompassed the last two years of high school and the first two years of college.

1943

Official name change from Peace Institute to Peace College.

Peace students on move-in day in the 1970s.

1960s-1970s

Peace College saw its greatest growth with the construction of 11 new buildings and many renovations to existing structures.

1996

Peace College awarded its first baccalaureate degree.

WPU Seal

2011

Continuing its revitalization efforts, the Board of Trustees unanimously voted to transition Peace to coeducational and to rename the college William Peace University. The move signaled the institution’s commitment to growth in both size and scope.

Peace students on move-in day in the 1970s.

2012

The first male students matriculated.

2022

WPU announced research into its history.

Explore the Archives

Explore digitized copies of our yearbook, “The Lotus” – now available online for class years 1902 through 2010, with recent years forthcoming.

The Lotus is the official yearbook of the University. Each volume documents people and events throughout the history of the institution. Some of the yearbooks include words and images that are in opposition to the current values of the University. William Peace University is in continuous pursuit of being a place where our diversity is celebrated, inclusion is practiced, and respect is commonplace.

A row of yearbooks stacked on a shelf.

Give Courageously to Peace

Thanks to the generosity of William Peace University supporters, current and future WPU students have access to the resources needed to learn through immersive experiences, build upon their courage and develop the confidence needed to turn passion into purpose.
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Give Now

Support future Pacer success. 

 

Become a Corporate Partner

Find out how your organization can collaborate with Peace.

Visitors

Whether you’re hoping to attend WPU or hosting an event, you’re welcome to visit WPU! 

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Phantom in downtown Raleigh

Conferences and Events

Host your conference, event, or wedding at WPU.

Location and Directions

Get directions, our address, a campus map, and hotel discount information.

Counselors

Learn about WPU and all it has to offer so you can guide your students to the best fit for their next step. 

Admissions Info

Meet and connect with our Admissions team.

Schedule a Visit

Learn about our processes and schedule a visit.

Alumni

Our success as an institution has always been rooted in the strength of our community. As an integral part of that community, we invite alumni to stay informed and connected. 

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Roses float in the campus fountain after an alumni event.
Building at WPU

Get Involved

Stay connected to Peace.

Donate

Contribute to the success of future Pacers.

General Info

Read about alumni benefits.

Parents

Families are an integral part of a student’s path to WPU. Find answers to your questions here. 

Commencement
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Student Success: Why Choose WPU?

Learn about the value of an education at WPU.

Billing and Due Dates

Questions about your student’s enrollment or billing? Start here.

Current Students

Already a Pacer? Here’s your quick path to information, links, and other useful stuff.

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Current Students

Missing something? Can’t find a link? Start here.

Current Parents and Families

Is your student a Pacer? Here’s where to get information and contacts.

Future Students

Welcome to William Peace University! We offer programs for both traditional undergraduate students and online/hybrid classes through our School of Professional Studies. Find your path to WPU here.

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Three students discuss their work during class.
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First Time in College

Your WPU education will help you build practical skills for your future.

Transfer Students

Transfer up to 90 credit hours from any institution. 

Working Professionals

Enhance your existing career.

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Two female international students

Readmission

If you previously attended WPU and are ready to return, start here. 

Veteran/Military

Learn more about how to apply the GI bill.

International Students

Find out how to attend WPU.

About

WPU has a long history as one of the city’s oldest universities. Find out more about our institution in the heart of downtown Raleigh. 

2023 Student Showcase
Staff Pumpkin Painting

History

Through 160 years, William Peace University has evolved to meet the changing needs of the students we serve.

Leadership

William Peace University is a small, private institution located in downtown Raleigh, NC.

Work at WPU

Join our team and see why William Peace University was voted one of the Triangle’s Best Places to Work!

DEI Staff
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Contact Us

Contact the University

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Learn about DEI at WPU.

Mission, Vision, and Values

Learn about WPU core tenets. 

Student Life

Whether you want to know more about on-campus events or see our residence halls, get a sense of what life is like as a student at WPU.

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A WPU student sits with his friends while eating at Belk dining hall.
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Clubs, Activities and Events

Discover what’s fun at WPU.

Housing & Dining

When people say that WPU “feels like home,” we think that’s the ultimate compliment.

Safety & Security

The Office of Public Safety is committed to providing a community-friendly approach to enhancing campus safety for students, faculty and staff.

Dining room at Peace
A WPU student sits with his friends while eating at Belk dining hall.
Health and wellness at WPU

Athletics

Cheer on your Pacers at their next home game.

Student Support Services

Find out how the WPU team supports the whole you.

Health and Wellness

Learn about physical and mental health services available to students.

Academics

WPU offers a mix of more than 30 degree programs and additional minors. Our courses are four credit hours each, and every course features immersive learning experiences.

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2023 Internship Showcase

Immersive Learning

Find out about WPU’s unique approach to learning.

Center for Student Success

Peer tutoring, a first-year success program, and an internship program are just part of why Pacers succeed. 

Admissions

Start here to find out how to apply, visit, and learn more about WPU.

Before you apply:

Admissions team
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A student reviews scholarship and payment information in the financial aid office.

Connect with an Admission Couneslor

They’ll be your guide through the process.

Visit Campus

Get a feel for campus life.

Understand Costs

Find out about Financial aid and other options to pay for college.