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Protest calls for ouster of Peace Univ. president

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RALEIGH, N.C. - William Peace University students and alumnae concerned about the direction of the school lined up to protest Thursday morning, with some carrying placards calling for the ouster of President Debra Townsley.

“We’re fine with the guys but not the lies,” read one placard.

Peace was founded as a college for women before the Civil War, but had tough times in recent years as women have turned to co-educational schools. Another longtime Raleigh institution, St. Mary’s, went from being a college to a high school, for example.

Townsley came to Peace in August 2010 and inherited a school with a rich tradition but a poor financial situation. Peace began admitting men in the fall of 2012, a decision that frustrated some graduates. Some Peace alumnae understood the decision but felt the Peace community had not been fully informed; others opposed admitting men altogether.

Townsley has defended the decision as essential to keeping the school viable.

In March, some faculty members sent an eight-page letter to the Board of Trustees that detailed concerns about Townsley’s leadership. In a letter to the media Thursday, some faculty said, “We continue to believe that there are significant issues impacting the learning environment at Peace and that the institution’s president, Dr. Debra Townsley, is responsible for the issues impacting the students and employees.

“We believe that the William Peace University Board of Trustees has an obligation to independently investigate our concerns and take appropriate action.”

Peace also made a controversial decision in October when it completed the purchase of the adjacent Seaboard Station. Peace, led by Townsley, decided to invest a whopping part of its endowment to complete the purchase.

Copyright 2014 WNCN. All rights reserved.

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