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William Peace University

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William Peace University Honors President Debra M. Townsley, Ph.D., with Honorary Degree

Local Four-Year Baccalaureate University Awards Departing President with Honorary Doctorate; Institution Concludes Academic Year with Commencement.

Raleigh, NC, May 13, 2015 --( William Peace University, ( a private four-year university located in downtown Raleigh, is proud to announce that current University President, Debra M. Townsley, Ph.D., has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Humanities. Townsley was honored by the Board of Trustees with the degree at the University’s 2015 Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 2.

Townsley, who is set to retire on June 30, 2015, has steered the University through a period of historic growth and development. Some of her most notable accomplishments include increasing enrollment by 69 percent while also maintaining a 46 percent diverse population within the student body; expanding the University athletics programs to include Men’s Basketball, Baseball, Soccer, Tennis, Golf and Cross Country; expanding campus facilities such as Hermann Athletic Center, Student Services, Campus Commons, Kenan Auditorium, Flowe and Pressly Halls; implementing new majors (Musical Theatre, Simulation and Game Design, Criminal Justice, Environmental Studies, Global Studies, Pre-Law, Writing, and renewal of the Anthropology major) and minors and concentrations (Forensics, Leadership and Management Studies, Marketing, Religion, Women’s Studies, Sport Management). Townsley also aided in the purchase of Seaboard Station, expanding the University footprint in 2013. In late April, she was awarded the state of North Carolina’s most prestigious award for significant achievement and service, the Order of the Longleaf Pine.

“I’m going to truly miss President Townsley,” said Joshua Walker ’16. “She has helped grow my university so much and she is a large reason why I am able to attend college. I hate to see her go, but I know she has already done and will continue to do great things.”

“I am both blessed and honored to be awarded this degree and to now be an honorary Alumna of Peace,” Townsley said. “We have done a lot of positive things here that will help this University continue to grow and prosper, and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for this fine institution.”

More than 200 students participated in Commencement. Assad Meymandi, MD, Ph.D., DLFAPA (Distinguished Life Fellow, American Psychiatric Association) served as the 2015 Commencement Speaker, and was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate degree, along with Alumna Sara Jo Allen Manning ’58 ’60.

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About William Peace University:

William Peace University is located in the heart of downtown Raleigh, North Carolina. It was founded in 1857 as Peace Institute, offering education for boys and girls in primary grades and to women from high school to college. Peace, an all-women's college, became a four-year baccalaureate college and graduated its first bachelor's students in August of 1996. Exclusively an all-women's institution for its first 152 years, Peace began offering coeducational evening courses through the William Peace School of Professional Studies in 2009. In 2011, Peace College transitioned to William Peace University and welcomed its first coeducational class to its day program in fall 2012. Its mission is to prepare students for careers in the organizations of tomorrow. On average, more than 90 percent of the university's graduates are placed in jobs or graduate school within one year of graduation. In fact, the University is ranked No. 1 in the nation among colleges with the highest rate of internships, according to a 2013 study conducted by U.S. News & World Report. For more information on WPU, please visit
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Ian C. Dunne

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