Warren Wilson College
|Type||Private Liberal Arts|
|Affiliation||Presbyterian Church (USA)|
|President||Lynn M. Morton|
|~65 full-time, ~15 part-time|
|Location||Asheville, North Carolina, United States|
|Colors||Blue, Gold |
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.
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.
Warren Wilson College is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA).
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. On November 30, 1894, the Asheville Farm School officially opened on 420 acres, with 25 students attending. A professional staff of three offered 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. In contrast to its original student population of underprivileged mountain youth, Warren Wilson now enrolls students of many different geographic and socioeconomic backgrounds. 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. He announced his resignation in October 2016, and his final day was June 30, 2017. He now leads The Calhoun School in New York. The eighth president, Dr. Lynn Morton, is the first female president in the college's history. She is a native North Carolinian and was formerly provost and vice president of academic affairs at Queens University in Charlotte, NC.
The foundation of the school's undergraduate curriculum is the Triad, which establishes that all students earn 128 hours of academic credit, work 10–20 hours per week for the school, and complete Community Engagement Commitment goals called PEGs, or Points of Engagement and Growth.. Students earn $7.25 per hour that goes directly towards their tuition. Unlike other schools in the Work College Consortium, students at Warren Wilson do not receive traditional pay checks.
Required subjects include Artistic Expression, History and Political Science, Language and Global Issues, Literature, Mathematics, Natural Sciences, Philosophy and Religious Studies, and Social Sciences to graduate and receive a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree. 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.
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.
- 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. When the pool was closed in 2014, the crew was merged with Athletics crew. When the new pool is completed, the crew will re-form.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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..
- 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.
- 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. In PEG 1, students must complete 25 hours of service in any issue area. This is generally completed in freshman year. PEG 2 consists of 25 hours in a specific issue area, such as food security. PEG 3 requires 50 hours in a leadership position within a specific issue area (this does not have to be the same as PEG 2). This often takes the form of an internship or leading a break service trip. PEG 4 is reflecting on your service experience and can be done via a group reflection or an essay.
Warren Wilson has varsity teams for both men and women in mountain biking, cyclocross, road cycling, basketball, soccer, swimming, and cross country. The college also has club teams for timber sports and paddling. All varsity teams except cycling and swimming compete under the United States Collegiate Athletics Association (USCAA), while cycling and swimming compete under USA Cycling (USAC) and the Appalachian Swim Conference respectively. At one point, the college also had football and baseball teams, although they have not existed for multiple decades.
The mountain biking team finished on the podium for 14 consecutive years at collegiate national championships until 2016, when they won the team omnium in Varsity Division II. In 2017 they finished fourth, for a 16th consecutive year on the podium. Although the mountain biking team was formed in the 1990s, the road and cyclocross teams were not added until much later, not competing in at the national championship level until the 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years respectively. In 2016, the cyclocross team placed 4th in the DII team omnium at nationals and 3rd in the team relay.
The men's basketball team won the USCAA DII national title in 2013.
The women's cross country team won the USCAA national title in 2000.
There are two dining halls on campus: Gladfelter and Cowpie. Gladfelter is a standard dining hall run by Sodexo, while Cowpie serves all vegan and vegetarian dishes. It works with Sodexo but is largely run by students who work under a full-time supervisor. Both dining halls use produce from the college garden and farm, although Cowpie uses this more extensively.
The Student Government Association (SGA) meets weekly and discusses various topics relevant to the student body. President Lynn M. Morton has attended two meetings in her first semester. There are also community meetings that occur with varying regularity. Beginning in the spring semester 2018, the college is introducing "deliberative dialogues," which are facilitated discussions on topics that are potentially difficult to have balanced conversations about.
There are two major construction projects underway or recently completed on campus as of the 2017-18 academic year. A new academic building, Myron Boon Hall, constructed on the site formerly occupied by Carson Hall, was completed in May of 2018. PFA Architects, of Asheville, led the design of the building and construction was contracted to H&M Construction. The building is LEED Gold Certified. It has six classrooms of varying sizes as well as larger meeting spaces similar in size to the existing Canon Lounge in Gladfelter that already hosts large community events but is often tightly scheduled.
The college's pool has been closed since 2014 when repairs to structural beams were deemed too expensive. Demolition and construction of a new pool structure began in 2017. Buncombe County contributed $300,000 to the project with the understanding of being able to use the pool for local swim teams. The pool has seen major setbacks, and although it was originally hoped that it would be completed for the 2017-18 swim season, work on the internal aspects of the pool were still underway as of October, 2018, although the exterior has been mostly completed
Clubs and organizations
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.
- Archery Club
- Belly Dancers
- 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
- WWC Republicans
The campus maintains 16 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, and features an active permaculture garden.
- Sage Hall has the student-run coffeehouse, Sage Cafe, in the lower level, which provides a space for bands, open mics, studying, and food. It is an all-male-identifying dorm.
- Stephenson is adjacent to Sage around Sage circle and is an all-female-identifying dorm.
- Dorland is the third dorm in Sage Circle proper. It closed in fall 2017 for renovations. A time has not been slated for these to begin.
- The Schafers are one of the two suite-style dorms on campus. There are three buildings (A, B, and C) located around a small quad. Each building has four suites that house eight students each, as well as one RA apartment. Each suite has four rooms, a common space, and a bathroom with two showers, stalls, and sinks. The shared common area for the building has a kitchen.
- The Villages are the other suite-style dorms. Each suite/apartment houses 4-6 students and has its own kitchen and bathroom. Apartments are connected by breezeways rather than an indoor common space. There are two buildings (A and B). The Villages are the furthest dorms from the rest of campus, located alone past the Kittredge parking lot.
- Sunderland Hall is one of three first-year residence halls and the largest on campus, capable of housing 134 students.
- Asheville Normal Teacher's College (ANTC) and Sutton are the other two first-year residence halls as of fall 2017. Previously they were upperclassmean dorms. Sutton has some housing specifically for freshmen who have taken gap year(s).
- Wellness Dorm is one of the dorms in the Ballfields. It is "values-based" housing for students who wish to live a substance-free lifestyle.
- Elmslie and Korevec are Ballfield A and B, respectively, located between Wellness and EcoDorm. They are traditional dorm housing, with three floors of rooms, each housing two students. Halls have common bathrooms and kitchens.
- The Vinings were freshmen housing until fall of 2017. Vining A is currently unthemed. Vining B is currently the "Alliance Hall," a space for LGBTQ+ identifying students and allies. Vining C is the common space for the Vinings as well as the home of Warren Wilson's Center for Gender Relations (CGR) and Wellness Crew.
- Shepard House is the only co-op style housing on campus. The residents receive a collective food stipend and have weekly family dinners as well as share house chores.
- Preston House was previously a second co-op style house, situated among the staff houses. Punk shows and other musical events were regularly hosted in its living room. It was condemned as structurally unsound and closed after the 2014-15 academic year. It was demolished via a controlled burn in 2016.
- Sara Benincasa, comedian
- Tony Earley, writer
- Rayna Gellert, fiddler
- Toubab Krewe, international-folk-fusion band
- Katie Spotz, youngest Atlantic solo rower
- Billy Edd Wheeler, singer/songwriter
- David Wilcox, folk musician
- Duncan Trussell, comedian
- Emil Amos, musician, member of Grails
- Joe Wenderoth, poet 
- James Franco, actor, writer, director (while not his alma mater, Franco attended the college's MFA program)
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. Two weeks of Appalachian Institute for Creative learning, a summer camp also take place on the campus.
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