William Peace University Shares Findings of Historical Research

Mar 22, 2022

RALEIGH, N.C. – William Peace University today announced the results of findings from a task force created to conduct research into areas where the institution’s history may or may not have intersected with white supremacy, slavery, and/or racism. 

The university issued the following statement acknowledging task force findings:

William Peace University is in continuous pursuit of being a place where our diversity is celebrated, inclusion is practiced, and respect is commonplace. As a reflection of the university’s commitment, a task force was created during the 2020-21 academic year to conduct research in key areas and identify parts of our history that are not consistent with our current values as an institution. We knew that to move forward, we must understand our history as an institution and where it may/may not intersect with white supremacy, slavery, and/or racism.

The initial findings by the task force reveal areas in our history that are diametrically opposed to our current values. Today, we are publicly acknowledging those findings. We are making this public acknowledgment because living our values today requires us to reckon with the hard truths of our past.

The initial findings include the following:

  • Mr. William Peace, for whom our university is named, owned enslaved people. The 1860 census records his ownership of fifty-one enslaved people.
  • The initial, most prominent, and enduring symbol of William Peace University is Main Building, which has served as a Confederate hospital, the Freedmen’s Bureau, and the iconic center of Peace Institute, Peace College, and William Peace University. Our research has revealed that the labor and skill that went into Main’s construction included that of enslaved people.
  • Past editions of the Peace yearbook, The Lotus (primarily prior to 1920), contain images and text that are objectionable, including racially stereotypical content and racial slurs. The 1946 edition is dedicated to Josephus Daniels who was complicit in the Wilmington Massacre of 1898.

Given these facts and believing the presence of the William Peace statue could create a divisive environment on campus, and keeping with our current values, The Board of Trustees voted in support of removing the statue of Mr. William Peace from campus. This vote included input from the Senior Leadership Team of the university and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. 

In addition to removing the statue, the university will begin with a Day of Acknowledgment on March 24th to enable our community to reflect on these findings. This will be followed by community input and listening sessions with our students, faculty/staff, alumni, and Board of Trustees. These listening sessions will allow us to interpret and process these facts as well as hear how we can reckon with and respond to our history in a way that makes us a better institution. We also recognize that uncovering history is an ongoing process, and we will be engaging an external researcher after the listening sessions have concluded to continue to research key pieces of the history of William Peace University. 

These listening sessions will occur over the next several weeks to allow ample time for inclusion and reflection. The process will be led by a third-party local diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) consulting firm, The Diversity Movement, and in partnership with our Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Leah Young. We have published a calendar with timing and locations for these discussions on our website

The input and learnings from these discussions will be translated into a set of recommendations that will be shared with the university leadership and our Board of Trustees. We will then decide on the next steps we will take to move forward. The Board of Trustees and University leadership are committed to taking the appropriate action in a thoughtful and intentional manner. As an institution of inquiry, we believe it is imperative that we understand our past in order to create a better, more inclusive future for our entire community.

The university’s leadership, staff, student body and alumni have been made aware of these findings. 

University leadership understands the many emotions and questions these findings may unearth and desires to maintain an open dialogue with the university community as next steps are determined. Those next steps and updates will be added to the University’s website on the History page.

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.
Roses float in the campus fountain after an alumni event.
a student uses a laptop on a green bench at William Peace University

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! 

Wedding at WPU
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. 

Alumni outside at WPU
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
Two WPU students work together on a project during class

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.

Group of students talking
Students high-fiving each other

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.

Three WPU students walk through a brick archway on campus.
Three students discuss their work during class.
Older gentleman at a computer

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.

A WPU student works on a video game in the new esports and gaming lab on campus.
Woman in army green typing at computer
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.

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.

WPU Student on bouncy slide
A WPU student sits with his friends while eating at Belk dining hall.
WPU Safety Officer

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.

A student in WPU's online School of Professional Studies works on her homework.
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
students walking on campus
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.