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Warren Wilson College
Former names
Asheville Farm School (1894–1957)
Warren Wilson Vocational Junior College (1942–1966)
TypePrivate liberal arts college
Established1894; 130 years ago (1894)
Religious affiliation
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Endowment$51.0 million (2020)[1]
PresidentDamián J. Fernández
Academic staff
54 full-time, 46 part-time
Undergraduates825 (2024)[2]
Location, ,

35°36′39″N 82°26′31″W / 35.61083°N 82.44194°W / 35.61083; -82.44194
CampusRural, 1,135 acres (459 ha)
Colors    Blue and green [4]
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division IIICoast to Coast Athletic Conference
Website www.warren-wilson.edu

Warren Wilson College (WWC) is a private liberal arts college in Swannanoa, North Carolina. It is known for its curriculum that combines academics, work, and service as every student must complete a required course of study, work an on-campus job, and perform community service. Warren Wilson requires students to work for the institution to graduate and is one of nine colleges in the Work Colleges Consortium.[5]

The college campus includes a 300-acre (1.2 km2) working farm, market garden, and 600 acres (2.4 km2) of managed forest with 16 miles (26 km) of hiking trails.[3]

Warren Wilson College is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA).


Warren Wilson College Farm

The property of the college is situated along the Swannanoa River. It 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.[6] On November 30, 1894, the Asheville Farm School officially opened on 420 acres (170 ha), with 25 students attending.[7] A professional staff of three offered the first three grades of elementary instruction.

In 1923, the school graduated its first high school class. 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 Warren Hugh Wilson, former superintendent of the Presbyterian Church's Department of Church and Country Life.[8][9]

The first post-high school programs offering vocational training began in 1936.[6] 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 World War II, the public education system in North Carolina improved dramatically and the need for the high school diminished. The last high school class graduated 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.[10]

The school was a junior college until 1967 when it became a four-year college, Warren Wilson College, with six majors on offer. In 1972, the National Board of Missions deeded the WWC property to the college's Board of Trustees. With its expansion of programs and to a four-year curriculum, Warren Wilson enrolls students of many different geographic and socioeconomic backgrounds. This is in contrast to the original student population of underprivileged mountain youth for basic education.

The eighth president, Lynn Morton, was 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.[11] She was succeeded in June 2023 by Damián J. Fernández.[12]



The foundation of the school's undergraduate curriculum establishes that all students earn 128 hours of academic credit, work 8–15 hours per week for the school, and complete the Community Engagement Commitment.[13] Students earn $9.05 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.[14] 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.

Work program

WWC has more than 70 work crews that are supported by students who commit to working 120, 180, or 240 hours each semester, helping to cover a portion of the cost of attendance.[15] Work Crews contribute in different areas, assuming administrative, academic, custodial, land management duties on campus. :[16]

Community engagement

Community engagement is a required activity to graduate.[17] 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:

Graduate degree programs

The college offered a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing.[18] A Master of Arts program focused on "critical craft theory and history" was offered from 2017 to 2022 in association with the Center for Craft in Asheville, N.C.[19]


The Warren Wilson athletic teams are called the Owls. The college is a provisional member of the NCAA Division III ranks, primarily competing in the Coast to Coast Athletic Conference (C2C) for most of its sports since the 2022–23 academic year; while its men's and women's swimming teams compete in the Sun Coast Swimming Conference (SCSC). All varsity teams except cycling are competed under the USCAA, while collegiate cycling is governed by USA Cycling (USAC).[20] At one point, the college also had football and baseball teams, although they have not existed for multiple decades.

The Owls previously competed as an NCAA D-III Independent from 2020–21 to 2021–22, and as an NAIA Independent within the Association of Independent Institutions (AII) of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) from 2010–11 to 2011–12. Warren Wilson was also a member of the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA), primarily competing as a founding member of the Eastern Metro Athletic Conference (EMAC) for most of its sports from 2018–19 to 2019–20;[21]

Warren Wilson competes in 20 intercollegiate varsity sports: Men's sports include basketball, cross country, cyclocross, lacrosse, mountain biking, road cycling, soccer, swimming, and tennis; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, cyclocross, lacrosse, mountain biking, road cycling, soccer, swimming, and tennis. The college also has club teams for timber sports and paddling.[20]

NCAA Division III

In March 2019, it was announced that the college will be joining the NCAA Division III membership process,[22][23] and in April 2020, the Owls were admitted as Division III provisional members for three years.[24] They have been seeking to join a conference during the transition.

On July 27, 2022, Warren Wilson was invited to join the C2C, beginning in the 2022–23 academic year.[25]


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.[26] In 2017 they finished fourth, for a 16th consecutive year on the podium.[27] Although the mountain biking team was formed in the 1990s, the road and cyclocross teams were not added until much later. They did not compete at the national championship level until the 2013–14 and 2014–15 academic years, respectively.[28] In 2016, the cyclocross team placed fourth in the DII team omnium at nationals and third in the team relay.[29]

The men's basketball team won the USCAA DII national title in 2013.[30]

The women's cross-country team won the USCAA national title in 2000.

Campus construction projects

A new academic building, Myron Boon Hall, constructed on the site formerly occupied by Carson Hall, was completed in May 2018. Lord Aeck Sargent was the prime architect and lead designer of the building. PFA Architects, of Asheville, was the associate architect and collaborated with Lord Aeck Sargent in all phases. H&M Constructors led the building's construction effort. The building is LEED Gold Certified.[31] It has six classrooms of varying sizes, and larger meeting spaces similar in size to the existing Canon Lounge in Gladfelter, to offer more spaces for large community events.[32]

Warren Wilson College Pool, construction Feb. 2018

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 that local swim teams would also be able to use the pool. Construction encountered major setbacks. Although originally planned to be completed for the 2017–18 swim season,[33] work on the internal aspects of the pool were still underway as of May 2023. The project has since stalled and not moving forward to the disappointment of many in the community.

Notable alumni


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  3. ^ a b "WWC Fast Facts". Warren Wilson College. Retrieved June 21, 2022.
  4. ^ Commencement - Warren Wilson College
  5. ^ "A Triad of Academics, Work, and Service". WWC. Retrieved July 5, 2010.
  6. ^ a b "History of Warren Wilson College" Accessed 4 July 2010.
  7. ^ "Today in Asheville history: Farm school opens". Asheville Citizen-Times. November 30, 2015. Retrieved November 30, 2015.
  8. ^ "Warren H. Wilson (1867-1937)". WWC. Retrieved July 5, 2010.
  9. ^ Neal, Dale (November 28, 2015). "College church has a rich history of celebrating the harvest". News & Record – via Asheville Citizen-Times.
  10. ^ Lillard, Margaret (February 25, 2007). "Honoring an alum who was also a civil rights pioneer". LA Times. Retrieved July 5, 2010.
  11. ^ "Warren Wilson's Eighth President is Lynn M. Morton". warren-wilson.edu. Warren Wilson College. May 4, 2017. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  12. ^ https://warren-wilson.edu/2023/02/17/warren-wilson-college-names-dr-damian-j-fernandez-as-new-president/
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  14. ^ "A Triad of Academics, Work, and Service". Warren Wilson College. Retrieved July 9, 2010.
  15. ^ "Work Requirements". Warren Wilson College. Retrieved June 11, 2019.
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  18. ^ "MFA Program for Writers". Warren Wilson College. Retrieved June 11, 2019.
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  20. ^ a b "Athletics & Fitness". warrenwilsonowls.com. Warren Wilson College. Retrieved January 13, 2020.
  21. ^ Staff (July 14, 2018). "Mustangs set to join new conference". The Daily Advance. Retrieved January 13, 2020.
  22. ^ Thompson, David (March 12, 2019). "Warren Wilson to Join NCAA". Asheville Citizen-Times. Retrieved March 20, 2019.
  23. ^ "WWC Athletics to Join NCAA Division III Membership Process". Warren Wilson College. March 13, 2019. Retrieved June 10, 2019.
  24. ^ "Warren Wilson College approved to move forward into NCAA Division III membership process". Warren Wilson College. April 15, 2020. Retrieved August 14, 2020.
  25. ^ C2C Welcomes Warren Wilson College as Newest Member - Coast-To-Coast Athletic Conference
  26. ^ McCormick, Fred (November 2, 2016). "Warren Wilson pedals home with a national championship". Black Mountain News. USA Today. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  27. ^ "Mountain Bike Team Podiums for 16th Consecutive Year". warrenwilsonowls.com. Warren Wilson College Athletics. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  28. ^ "Jones, Leeson lead Owls at Road Bike National Championships". warrenwilsonowls.com. Warren Wilson College Athletics. May 6, 2014. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  29. ^ "Cyclocross Rides to Fourth Place at National Championships". warrenwilsonowls.com. Warren Wilson College Athletics. January 12, 2016. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  30. ^ "Owls Win USCAA National Championship". warrenwilsonowls.com. Warren Wilson College Athletics. March 3, 2013. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  31. ^ "Warren Wilson New Academic Building". pfarchitects.com. PFA Architects. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
  32. ^ "New Academic Building Gets Green Light From Board of Trustees". warren-wilson.edu. Warren Wilson College. 28 February 2017. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
  33. ^ Fraboni, Frank (6 July 2017). "Ask 13: Is Warren Wilson's indoor pool still on track?". wlos.com. News 13 WLOS. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
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