Debra Townsley to Leave the Presidency of William Peace University

TownsleyDebra M. Townsley has informed the board of trustees at William Peace University in Raleigh, North Carolina, that she will step down as president on June 30, 2015. Earlier this year, the board offered to extend her contract but she has declined the offer.

Dr. Townsley had angered many students and alumnae in 2012 when she announced the plan to turn Peace College, a liberal arts educational institution for women into a co-educational institution. After the elimination of some academic programs and a down-sizing of the faculty, a majority of the faculty signed a resolution expressing no confidence in Dr. Townsley’s leadership. Despite her rocky relationship with students and alumnae, the board of trustees remained in support of Dr. Townsley’s leadership.

The switch to co-education has resulted in a 47 percent increase in enrollments since 2010, according to the college. Men make up 37 percent of the first-year class this fall.

Prior to joining William Peace University, Townsley served for 12 years as the sixth president – and first woman president – of Nichols College in Dudley, Massachusetts.

President Townsley holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration with concentrations in marketing and management from American University in Washington, D.C. She earned an MBA from George Washington University, and a master’s degree in psychology and a Ph.D. in organizational psychology from the University of Vermont.

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