Warren Wilson College
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|Type||Private Liberal Arts|
|Presbyterian Church (USA)|
|Endowment||$51.3 million (2019)|
|President||Lynn M. Morton|
|~65 full-time, ~15 part-time|
|Colors||Blue, Green |
|Athletics||USCAA – EMAC|
NCAA Division III – TBA
Warren Wilson College (WWC) is a private liberal arts college in Swannanoa, North Carolina. WWC is known for its curriculum that combines academics, work, and service. This system 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 nine 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. They were concerned that many Americans in isolated areas were not getting 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. 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. It was 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. A Presbyterian church was started at the school in 1925 so students and teachers would no longer have to walk three miles to Riceville; it was also named for Wilson.
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 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.
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, North Carolina.
The foundation of the school's undergraduate curriculum establishes that all students earn 128 hours of academic credit, work 10–20 hours per week for the school, and complete the Community Engagement Commitment. 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 Undergraduate Research Sequence (NSURS) is the undergraduate research and presentation that is required for all Bachelor of Science degrees given by the college.
WWC has more than 70 work crews that are supported by students who commit to working 150, 225, or 300 hours each semester, helping to cover a portion of the cost of attendance. Some of them are:
Community engagement is a required activity to graduate. Students engage with a wide variety of issues, but the most time is committed and the deepest partnerships are developed in the following designated Issue Areas:
- The Environment
- Food Security
- Housing & Homelessness
- Race & Immigration
- Youth & Education
A master's 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. Warren Wilson also offers a Master of Arts in Critical & Historical Craft Studies.
Warren Wilson has varsity teams for both men and women in mountain biking, cyclocross, road cycling, basketball, soccer, swimming, cross country, and tennis. The college also has club teams for timber sports and paddling. The college's nickname is Owls.
The college competes in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) and is a founding member of the Eastern Metro Athletic Conference (EMAC) in 2018. The university is also a member of the Sun Coast Swimming Conference for the men's and women's swimming. All varsity teams except cycling under the USCAA, while collegiate cycling is governed by USA Cycling (USAC). At one point, the college also had football and baseball teams, although they have not existed for multiple decades. In March 2019, it was announced that the college will be joining the NCAA Division III membership process, and in April 2020, the Owls were admitted as Division III provisional members for a three-year period. They have been seeking to join a conference during the transition.
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 major construction projects underway or recently completed on campus as of the 2019–2020 academic year. A new academic building, Myron Boon Hall, constructed on the site formerly occupied by Carson Hall, was completed in May 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 July 2019, although the exterior has been mostly completed
The campus maintains 16 residence halls of varying layouts and capacities.
- Emil Amos, musician, member of Grails
- Sara Benincasa, comedian
- Tony Earley, writer
- Rayna Gellert, fiddler
- A. Van Jordan, poet (MFA)
- Toubab Krewe, international-folk-fusion band
- Vyvyane Loh, writer, choreographer, physician (MFA)
- Grace Dane Mazur, author
- Heather McElhatton, public radio producer, writer (MFA)
- Katie Spotz, youngest Atlantic solo rower
- Duncan Trussell, comedian
- David Weber, writer
- Joe Wenderoth, poet 
- Billy Edd Wheeler, singer/songwriter
- David Wilcox, folk musician
- Hannah Yoter, American folk musician from Anchorage Alaska
- James Franco, actor, poet (MFA)
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