New Events Highlight WPU Founder’s Day Celebration, March 15, 2018

February 28, 2018

William Peace University is proud to celebrate 161 years of success as part of its Founder’s Day celebration on Thursday, March 15, 2018.

This year’s events mark a new era in celebrating our founder, William Peace, as the University will host a “Porch Talk” and inaugural “Founder’s Walk”, where University officials, alumni, students, faculty and staff, and community members will embark on a 20-minute walk to Mr. Peace’s gravesite at Raleigh City Cemetery, honoring the late Raleigh businessman and church elder. Mr. Peace’s gravesite was recently renovated and restored by the Raleigh City Cemetery and persevered as a historical landmark. In addition to the Founder’s Walk, the University will host live music on Main Lawn, as well as local food trucks.

We are also celebrating Founder’s Day by making it a Day of Giving for the University. As we celebrate our past, make an investment in our future by making a gift to the University. In honor of our founding year, we are encouraging gifts of $18.57, $185.70, $1857.00 and etc. Make a gift and invite two others to follow your lead.

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2018 Founder’s day Events

  • Porch Talk and Founder’s Walk
    2 p.m. – 5 p.m.

WPU will kick off the festivities with the first ever Peace Porch Talk on the institutions history featuring Dr. Wade Newhouse, Program Director of Theatre and Assistant Professor of English and Reverend R. Lee Carter, William C. Bennett Chaplain. Following this unique historical presentation the University will honor their founder, William Peace and his lasting legacy with a Founder’s Walk through downtown Raleigh to the City Cemetery of Raleigh and return to the campus. The Founder’s Walk will feature a presentation of the long-term restoration project of William Peace’s gravesite located at City Cemetery of Raleigh (17 S. East Street, Raleigh, NC 27601). The first 100 participants to check-in for the walk will receive a commemorative t-shirt.

  • Concert on the Lawn
    5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Gather with friends and family and bring your lawn chairs and picnic blankets to listen to a live concert on William Peace University’s Main Lawn from 5:30 p.m. -7:30 p.m. featuring The Retro Band, a nine piece band playing music from all generations. Admission to the concert is free. Food trucks will be on site to purchase a number of delicious options for dinner.

All events are open to the community; however, registration is required.

Register for Founder’s Walk

Register for Concert on the Lawn

Our History

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 approximately 1,000 students and offers nearly 30 majors, and dozens of minors, and concentrations.

Over its 161-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.

“I am excited to expand our Founder’s Day programming into a true community event that enables us to honor our past, celebrate our present, and generate excitement about our future. Founder’s Day is a great way for us all to affirm our belief in Peace. The University proudly stands today because of the vision of one man and the efforts of thousands who have gone before us to bring this idea to life. We now have the privilege of carrying that vision forward.”
Brian C. Ralph, Ph.D., President of WPU


William Peace founded Peace Institute in 1857
WPU is named in honor of its founder, William Peace

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 Church, (U.S.A.), and today boasts more than 11,000 living alumni, countless faculty, staff, and supporters, all of whom have crossed the pathways of Peace during their lifetime.

GraveSite Restoration Numbers + Facts

The Peace Plot restoration was completed on Saturday, June 24, 2017 by donors & friends of Raleigh City Cemeteries Preservation
Mr. Peace’s gravesite was recently renovated and restored by Raleigh City Cemeteries Preservation
  • Work was completed in phases, totaling 10 years
  • Work was performed by Dean Ruedrich, restoration specialist, and his team
  • Missing marble pieces were ordered and shipped from Italy
  • Fence pieces were made by OK Foundry in Richmond, VA
  • Welder work was completed by Douglas McDonald
  • In 2009, Peace Anthropology and Archaeology students collected and stored fragments of historic Peace family monuments and stone walls in Raleigh City Cemetery
  • Project was completed June 24, 2017
  • Cost: $90,000
  • Funds were made possibly by donors and friends of Raleigh City Cemeteries Preservation, including William Peace University