The College is located on the banks of the Swannanoa River, surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, and on the outskirts of Asheville, the cultural center of western North Carolina. The campus consists of nearly 1,132 acres, including a 300-acre farm, about 650 acres of forest, and 25 miles of hiking trails. The central campus, approximately 100 acres, has over 30 major buildings, including classrooms, laboratories, studios, faculty offices, administrative offices, a library, a student center, and residence halls for over 700 students. Additionally, there is housing for some faculty and staff members and their families on campus.
The essence of this diverse college community can be summarized in the following six points:
The educational program at Warren Wilson College consists of a combination of liberal arts academic study, participation in a campus-wide work program, and required community service. Each component of this triad plays an important role in the education of the whole person.
The College provides a strong liberal arts education. The highly qualified faculty is dedicated to teaching undergraduate students. The general education program helps students develop valuable skills, explore several topics relevant to the distinctive mission of the College, and engage in a breadth of study in the liberal arts. The College offers 20 majors, including traditional arts and science disciplines, professional studies, and innovative interdisciplinary and individually designed programs. The four-term calendar allows concentration in a few subjects at a time. Classes are small and there is ample opportunity for independent tutorials.
Since the College's founding over 100 years ago, students have been its work force. To fulfill their weekly work requirement, resident students do electrical work, plumbing, and landscaping; they grow vegetables, tend the animals on the farm, and operate and maintain heavy earth-moving equipment. Students also clean buildings and repair gutters, run the Work Program Office, and constitute the chief clerical support for the Deans', Admission's, and Registrar's offices. The Work Program helps build responsibility, competency, and confidence.
Service has always been a distinctive aspect of Warren Wilson College, and a graduation requirement for over 40 years. Service to society enables students to make a difference in the world, understand the needs of others, and develop a moral perspective that benefits humankind.
One of the major factors that encourages students, faculty, volunteers, and staff to come to Warren Wilson College is the perception that the College is an active, participatory community that shares a deep commitment and a passionate concern for the health of our planet. The WWC community is interested in conserving resources, reducing waste, and eliminating pollution, but the community's feelings extend deeper to a recognition that the community is a component part of an interdependent web of social and ecological relationships. The recognition of the WWC community's membership in the greater ecological community leads the College to reconsider its ideals, values, and organizing principles. WWC is a working landscape, rooted in a particular bioregion, and part of an interconnected, but limited, global commons. WWC recognizes the need to exercise wise use of the resources of the global commons, and, at the same time, the need for a deep, aesthetic, spiritually-based involvement with the environment that extends beyond the human inhabitants of the College. Thus, an essential goal of WWC is to foster the development of good environmental citizens who recognize and perform their duties and responsibilities as members of the larger human and ecological communities.
As is true on some other residential campuses, about 85 percent of the students at Warren Wilson College live on campus. Unlike most other campuses, however, many of the full-time faculty and staff also live on campus. Because students, faculty, and staff live closely together, and study, work, and serve together, there is a strong sense of membership in the campus community.
Warren Wilson College is committed to attracting and maintaining a diversity of students, staff, and faculty. The campus culture celebrates and cherishes diversity in terms of race, national origin, cultural background, geographic origin, social class, personal values, and interests. Openness and tolerance are encouraged and supported. Students represent a wide geographical diversity, with only 21 percent from North Carolina and 60 percent from outside the Southeastern region. International students comprise about six percent of the student body. They bring to the College cultural insights and experiences often different from those of American students.
Within the strong sense of community, and in support of diversity, the Warren Wilson College environment is one in which the dignity and worth of the individual is affirmed and supported. Inside the classroom, learning takes place in a setting that allows for personal relationships in which students are treated as individuals. On work crews, students get to know their supervisors and workmates in an individual way. Administrative and faculty offices are open and the staff members know individual students and care about them.
At Warren Wilson College, all members of the community participate in making decisions that affect the future of the institution. All staff, faculty, work supervisors, and even volunteers, are members of the Staff Forum. Students select their representatives to the Student Caucus. Both groups meet regularly and have a significant voice in policy-making decisions in many areas, and any member of the community may initiate proposals for new ways of doing things.