Peace College is going coed and changing its name, college officials announced today.
Peace College will become William Peace University and begin admitting men in the fall of 2012.
Today's announcement caps a tumultuous year at Peace. Firings and buyouts of faculty members came in waves as the college reorganized its academic programs. In January, Peace's new president, Debra Townsley, announced that the college would expand its night school, which is open to male students and includes online-only options meant to accommodate working adults.
At the same time, the college dropped its music major and let go its music faculty. Townsley said the moves are designed to realign academic programs and move toward areas that have higher demand.
The changes instituted by Townsley have angered alumnae who feared the moves were a first step to going coed. Some students talked of transferring and several high-ranking staffers left. Three of the music professors who were terminated filed a lawsuit against the college.
Peace is no stranger to adapting to change. The school was founded in 1857 as an institute for girls starting in kindergarten. During a growth spurt in the 1960s and '70s, Peace ended its high school program to operate solely as a two-year junior college. Then in the mid-1990s, Peace became a four-year institution that granted bachelor's degrees.