Warren Wilson College

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Coordinates: 35°36′39.5″N 82°26′30.7″W / 35.610972°N 82.441861°W / 35.610972; -82.441861

Warren Wilson College
Type Private Liberal Arts
Established 1894
Affiliation None
Endowment $59.5 million
President Lynn M. Morton
Academic staff
~65 full-time, ~15 part-time
Undergraduates 850[1]
Postgraduates 70[1]
Location Asheville, North Carolina, United States
Campus Rural
Colors Green, Gold          [2]
Nickname Owls
Website www.warren-wilson.edu

Warren Wilson College (also called WWC) is a private four-year liberal arts college near Asheville, North Carolina, in the Swannanoa Valley. The college offers classes in a range of disciplines with Environmental Studies and Creative Writing among the most popular.

WWC is known for its curriculum that combines academics, work, and service. This system, called "the Triad", requires every student to complete a requisite course of study, work an on-campus job, and perform community service.Warren Wilson is one of the few colleges in the United States that requires students to work for the institution in order to graduate and is one of only seven colleges in the Work Colleges Consortium.[3]

The college is notable for its surrounding environment. The campus includes a 275-acre (1.11 km2) working farm, market garden, and 625 acres (2.53 km2) of managed forest with 25 miles (40 km) of hiking trails.[1]


Warren Wilson College Farm

Warren Wilson College went through many phases before becoming what it is today. Its property, situated along the Swannanoa River, was purchased in 1893 by the Women's Board of Home Missions of the Presbyterian Church, which was concerned that many Americans in isolated areas were not receiving a proper education and decided to establish church-supported schools in impoverished areas.[4] On November 30, 1894, the Asheville Farm School officially opened on 420 acres, with 25 students attending.[5] A professional staff of three offering the first three grades of elementary instruction.

In 1923, the school graduated its first high school class, and the first post-high school programs offering vocational training began in 1936.[4] In 1942, the Asheville Farm School merged with the Dorland-Bell School in Hot Springs, North Carolina, to become a coed secondary school, named Warren H. Wilson Vocational Junior College and Associated Schools, after the late Warren H. Wilson, former superintendent of the Presbyterian Church's Department of Church and Country Life.[6] Wilson's name is also on a Presbyterian church started at the school in 1925 so students and teachers would no longer have to walk three miles to Riceville.[7] After World War II, the public education system in North Carolina improved dramatically and the need for the high school diminished, with the last high school class there graduating in 1957. Warren Wilson College was a junior college until 1967, when it became a four-year college offering six majors. In 1972, the National Board of Missions deeded the WWC property over to the college's Board of Trustees. Steven L. Solnick, formerly the Ford Foundation representative in Moscow, then in New Delhi, became the College's seventh president in 2012.[8]

Warren Wilson College's seventh president, Steven Solnick, announced his resignation in October 2016, with his final day set for June 30, 2017. He will lead The Calhoun School in New York. The eighth president, Dr. Lynn Morton, will be the first female president in the college's history. She is a native North Carolinian.

In 1952, the college became one of the first in the South to desegregate, when it invited Alma Shippy, an African American from Swannanoa, North Carolina, to attend. Sunderland dorm residents voted 54-1 to allow Shippy to become a student and live in their dorm.[9] In contrast to its original student population of underprivileged mountain youth, Warren Wilson now enrolls students of many different geographic and socioeconomic backgrounds.

The Triad[edit]

The foundation of the school's undergraduate curriculum is the Triad, which establishes that all students earn 128 hours of academic credit, work 15 hours per week for the school, and complete Community Engagement Commitment goals called PEGs, or Points of Engagement and Growth..[10]


Required subjects include Artistic Expression, History and Political Science, Language and Global Issues, Literature, Mathematics, Natural Sciences, Philosophy and Religious Studies, and Social Sciences in order to graduate and receive a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree.[11] In addition to traditional liberal arts majors such as Biology and English, undergraduates have the option of majoring in Outdoor Leadership or Environmental Studies. The Natural Science Seminar is the name for the undergraduate research and presentation that is required for all bachelor of science degrees given by the college.

A masters program has also been a part of the campus since 1981 in the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers, which awards a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.[12]

In 2017, the college announced plans for a new academic building for the first time in 18 years. The $6 million project is expected to open in 2018.[13]


WWC has more than 100 work crews that are supported by students who commit to working 240 hours a semester, helping to cover part of the cost of attendance.[14] Some of them are:[15]

  • 3-D Studio Crew maintains the 3-D Art Studio areas, including stocking ceramic chemicals, mixing glazes and slips, and loading and firing the electric and gas kilns. Students on this crew might also learn how to create sculpture and pottery, how to build and maintain kilns and other equipment in a sculpture studio, and how to run and organize a professional 3-D studio.
  • Aquatics Crew operates and maintains the college swimming pool. All crew members are responsible for life-guarding, pool member relations, cleaning, and sometimes chemical maintenance.
  • Archaeology Crew members act as curators of the archaeological artifact collections and maintain the archaeological site on Warren Wilson campus. Crew members also develop educational programs related to the Warren Wilson College Archaeological Field School. Usually, students on this crew demonstrate a strong interest in archaeology, cultural studies, or museum work.
  • Auto Shop crew maintains campus vehicles through routine maintenance checks and major repairs. Students learn to evaluate the mechanical condition of cars, learn computer analyses of engines, welding, and small-job metal fabrication.
  • Blacksmith Crew focuses on learning and teaching traditional blacksmithing skills. Students create tools that are used by other crews and the wider campus community. The crew often hosts open houses for the community and teaches others about forging iron.
    A Member of Blacksmith Crew at Warren Wilson College
  • Chemistry and Physics crew crew members grade assignments completed by chemistry and physics students, maintain laboratory equipment, clean laboratories and classrooms, tutor students, and maintain an inventory of all materials on hand.
  • Community Bike Shop crew members repair bicycles and conducts bicycle maintenance workshops, which includes repairing personal bicycles for members of the college community.
  • Computing Services crew members are the tech support for Warren Wilson and operate out of the help desk in the Bannerman Technology Center. On this crew, students may monitor the campus computer lab hardware and software, assist students with networking issues, and perform maintenance on both college computers and personal devices for the greater campus community.
  • Dining Services and Cowpie Cafe Crews work in the cafeterias and help prepare meals, manage during the meals, and clean cafeteria space. The Cowpie Cafe, a student-initiated establishment, concentrates on serving sustainable vegan and vegetarian cuisine, as opposed to standard cafeteria fare.[16]
  • Farm Crew maintains the 300 acres (1.2 km2) of farm and pasture needed for cattle, pig, and chicken livestock. With this duties such as tractor maintenance, growing feed, and barn structure repairs are included. The crew also sells meat and eggs to the community and school cafeterias.
  • Forestry Crew conducts all activities necessary for the sustainable management of the College's 650-acre (2.6 km2) forest including growing shiitake mushrooms for sale at the garden market.
  • Geographic Information Systems Crew manages the College's GIS laboratory and works with students and faculty conducting research that requires the use of geospatial analysis software.
  • Plumbing Arts Crew maintains all the plumbing on the campus..
A garden bed at Warren Wilson College gardens in April
  • Garden Crew runs a 5-acre (20,000 m2) market garden that grows organic vegetables for consumption in the school cafeterias and a market stand. The herb crew also maintains a plot for growing herbal medicinals whose products are sold on campus.
  • Landscaping Crew includes duties ranging from mowing school property, tractor and heavy equipment work, masonry, tree care and felling, and flowerbed and walkway maintenance. The Native Plants Crew recently received a $50,000 grant from U.S. Forest Service to grow and collect a number of native plants for seed to be used in future restoration projects in commercial settings.
  • Recycling Crew collects and maintains the school's solid wastes from all of campus and additionally maintains an active composting program of food from the cafeterias. They are active in educating students about how the waste stream functions as well as finding ways to reuse materials for the students' benefit. The Recycling Crew was awarded the Outstanding Composting or Organics Recycling Program in the Carolinas by the Carolina Recycling Association.[17]
  • Electric Crew Maintains all electrical systems in campus buildings. The students receive an intensive week of training before being allowed to start work on the crew. As well as general 120-240 volt electrical systems, the students also work on and learn about fire alarm systems, telephone systems, data/communications, and direct digital control systems for HVAC control within buildings.
  • Service Crew The Service Program Office is run by 20 some students and 6 staff members. Students organize service opportunities around five issue areas: Housing and Homelessness, Environment, Youth and Education, Food Security, & Race and Immigration. The mission of the Warren Wilson College Service Program is to prepare students for effective community engagement.


Previously, Warren Wilson required that students complete 100 hours of community service over the course of 4 years. Beginning in 2012, however, incoming students had new requirements under the Community Engagement Commitment called PEGs, or Points of Engagement and Growth.[10]

Campus life[edit]

The Old Farmer's Ball hosts weekly contra dances providing the students and the community with old-time music and dancing, and an ever changing line-up of musicians.[18]

Clubs and organizations[edit]

A Warren Wilson aerialist performing on silks.

Due to the extensive work program, many things that would be clubs or organizations at other colleges function as work crews at Warren Wilson. The following, however, are just a few of the clubs that are active on campus.

  • Acrobatics
  • Aerials
  • Archery Club
  • Belly Dancers
  • Bird Club
  • Crochet Collective
  • Eco-feminist Collective
  • Fire Legion
  • Hula Hoop Jam
  • Language Exchange Club
  • Martial Arts Club
  • Modern Dance Collective
  • Spectrum (LGBTQIA club)
  • Step Team
  • The Echo newspaper
  • WWC Democrats

Residence halls[edit]

The campus maintains 14 residence halls of varying layouts and capacities.

  • The EcoDorm was the first college dorm to be certified as LEED Platinum in 2009 in the category of Existing Buildings,[19] and features an active permaculture garden.[20]
  • Sage Hall has the student-run coffeehouse, Sage Cafe, located in the lower level which provides a space for bands, open mics, studying, and food.[21]
  • Sunderland Hall is one of two First Year residence halls and the largest on campus, holding 134 students.

Notable alumni[edit]

Summer programs[edit]

The Swannanoa Gathering is an annual summer program on the Warren Wilson campus. It includes a series of classes, workshops, dances and performances of various folk music and related arts. The six-week program consists of Traditional song, Fiddle, Celtic, Old-time music and dance, Contemporary folk music, Guitar, and Dulcimer weeks. The Gathering celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2012.[citation needed] Two weeks of Appalachian Institute for Creative learning, a summer camp also take place on the campus.


  1. ^ a b c "WWC Fast Facts". Warren Wilson College. Retrieved 2 September 2012. 
  2. ^ Visual Identity and Style Guidelines
  3. ^ "A Triad of Academics, Work, and Service". WWC. Retrieved 5 July 2010. 
  4. ^ a b "History of Warren Wilson College" Accessed 4 July 2010.
  5. ^ "Today in Asheville history: Farm school opens". Asheville Citizen-Times. 30 November 2015. Retrieved 30 November 2015. 
  6. ^ "Warren H. Wilson (1867-1937)". WWC. Retrieved 5 July 2010. 
  7. ^ Neal, Dale (28 November 2015). "College church has rich history or celebrating the harvest". Asheville Citizen-Times. 
  8. ^ "Steven L. Solnick becomes 7th president of Warren Wilson College". Warren Wilson College. Retrieved 2017-03-30. 
  9. ^ Lillard, Margaret (25 February 2007). "Honoring an alum who was also a civil rights pioneer". LA Times. Retrieved 5 July 2010. 
  10. ^ a b "Community Engagement Commitment". Warren Wilson College. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  11. ^ "A Triad of Academics, Work, and Service". Warren Wilson College. Retrieved 9 July 2010. 
  12. ^ "MFA Program for Writers". Warren Wilson College. Retrieved 9 July 2010. 
  13. ^ "Warren Wilson College set to break ground on building". Citizen Times. Retrieved 2017-04-14. 
  14. ^ "Work for the Hands". Warren Wilson College. Retrieved 9 July 2010. 
  15. ^ "Work Program". Warren Wilson College. Retrieved 9 July 2010. 
  16. ^ Pappalardo, Nadia. "Warren Wilson College Cowpie Student-Workers Ask for More Organic Food". Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  17. ^ "WWC Receives Award for "Outstanding" Composting". Mountain Xpress. Retrieved 9 July 2010. 
  18. ^ "Old Farmer's Ball". Retrieved 9 July 2010. 
  19. ^ "EcoDorm at Warren Wilson College". BuildingGreen.com. Retrieved 9 July 2010. 
  20. ^ "Ecodorm featured on Eco Solutions" (flash video). CNN. Retrieved 5 July 2010. 
  21. ^ "WWC Catalog - Sage Cafe and Baking Crew". Warren Wilson College. 
  22. ^ a b "Lavenderhour.com". Lavenderhour.com. Retrieved 2014-08-21. 
  23. ^ "Joe Wenderoth — Department of English, UC Davis". English.ucdavis.edu. Retrieved 2014-08-21. 

External links[edit]