Of the many stories published and aired on the College over the past dozen years, the pieces below stand out as especially impressive. It’s also worth noting that in addition to the extensive media coverage Warren Wilson has enjoyed in recent years, the marketing and media relations efforts of the College were singled out in the December 2008 issue of University Business, a national higher education publication. In a feature titled “50 Best Branding Ideas: How colleges and universities are successfully creating and communicating their brands,” Warren Wilson’s strategy to “Be for some if you’re not for everyone” was listed No. 6.
The annual college rankings season this year included some new accolades for Warren Wilson College.
One of the more impressive recognitions came from Outside magazine, which ranked Warren Wilson No. 7 nationally in its feature "Outside University: The Top 25 Colleges for Outside Readers." Cal-Berkeley was No. 1 as California universities dominated the list, but Warren Wilson had the highest ranking of any school in the Southeast.
Washington Monthly gave Warren Wilson another lofty ranking, placing the College 25th nationwide among its Top 30 Liberal Arts Colleges in the magazine's 2012 college rankings. The rankings are based on student social mobility, faculty research production and colleges' commitment to service.
On the graduate level, Warren Wilson's renowned MFA Program for Writers was named the "Most Popular" low-residency MFA program by Poets & Writers magazine. Warren Wilson also fared well in regional college rankings, being selected as the No. 1 "All-Around Blue Ridge Outdoor School" by Blue Ridge Outdoors.
The College maintained its excellent standing in several other rankings as well. It was named a private college "Best Buy" - one of 20 nationwide - by the highly regarded Fiske Guide to Colleges for the seventh time since 2005.
Warren Wilson also continued as a Sierra magazine "Coolest School," as it has every year since Sierra began the feature in 2007.
And the College again was named to The Princeton Review Green Rating Honor Roll, one of 21 schools to make the grade.
Photo essay, Sunday Magazine, Sept. 27, 2009 – Associate Picture Editor Clinton Cargill decided to do a feature on life in and around the EcoDorm after I sent her several images and info on the building and its recent LEED Platinum-EB certification. After further conversation and e-mails she assigned large-format photographer Samantha Contis to take pictures at the EcoDorm over a four-day period, relying on extensive access the residents gladly provided. Writer Charles Wilson did numerous phone interviews to gather material for the text and captions. The four-page spread likely ranks as some of the most extensive coverage a college has received in NYT Magazine.
Sunday profile, Feb. 6, 2000 – One media relations consultant says that a Sunday feature in the Times likely could be valued at about $10 million in direct and indirect benefits to an institution. Very few colleges have been able to land such an article in the Times on any day of the week. A story by Jacques Steinberg titled, “Blue-Collar Jobs Complement Liberal Arts Courses,” focused on Warren Wilson’s student work program. The college’s efforts in attracting the Times to campus were noted in an article in University Business titled, “Get Ink II.”
Education Life article, Nov. 4, 2007 – A piece by Lisa Guernsey titled "Outside the Box" focused on colleges that stand out from the pack and included two substantial paragraphs on Warren Wilson. The lead paragraph even borrowed from Warren Wilson's tagline. Lisa, the author of "Into the Minds of Babes" and a Times contributor, did phone interviews with Sandy Pfeiffer, Richard Blomgren, Ian Robertson and Ben Anderson, and spoke with WWC sophomore Vanessa Emery.
Half-page profile, May 18, 1998 – The college’s work program took center stage in the article by Mary Beth Marklein titled, “At this school, work is par for the course.” After an interview with Doug Orr and Ben Anderson at USA Today offices in Arlington, Va., Mary Beth spent a day and a half on campus interviewing several students and staff members. She followed up many times over the phone seeking more information and background for her story, and the result was an extremely accurate and balanced story.
Front-page profile in Learning section of Sunday Globe, Sept. 24, 2000 – This large spread was published on the heels of a feature on The Swannanoa Gathering. The headline, “A college that isn’t for everyone,” was a direct play off our viewbook and marketing tagline and probably did a great deal to draw readers’ attention. The college’s work program again was the emphasis of a major article.
National feature article, February 2007 – With headlines such as “College’s invitation to integrate made history,” the inspiring story of the 1952 enrollment of Alma Shippy at Warren Wilson appeared in CNN.com, the International Herald Tribune and news media across the United States. After Alma died in December 2006 and his obituary appeared in many newspapers, Margaret Lillard of the AP bureau in Raleigh approached the national desk about doing a feature story on Alma and the college. The 1,400-word story with photos was distributed to AP members nationwide. Alumni Billy Edd Wheeler and Rodney Lytle were instrumental in helping to tell the story of a college that was well ahead of its time in opening its doors to all.
National feature story, December 2001 – Steve Giegerich, then the AP higher education reporter, included Warren Wilson in an article on campus greening. Larry Modlin, Paul Bartels and Ben Anderson contributed information for the story that included four paragraphs on the EcoDorm. More than 100 papers including The New York Times and The Baltimore Sun published the feature.
“Notes from Academe” back-cover narrative, Oct. 20, 2006 – The Chronicle’s special report on campus sustainability included a narrative by Lawrence Biemiller titled, “Lessons From Animals and Land,” that focused on the college farm. After numerous contacts from Ben Anderson over several years, Lawrence spent three days on campus. In addition to the printed version of “Lessons From Animals and Land,” an online slide show accompanied the chronicle.com version of the story.
Coverage of 2007 Commencement Address – Ben Anderson approached the network about covering the commencement address by Majora Carter, founder/executive director of Sustainable South Bronx and co-host of “The Green” on the Sundance Channel. Fortunately, the C-SPAN decision maker had recently heard her speak, and decided to send a crew to one of the smallest commencements the network has televised. The address aired on C-SPAN June 1, 2007.
No. 3 on “10 Coolest Schools” list, November/December 2007; and No. 4 “Coolest School,” September/October 2008 – The cover story of this issue of the 700,000-circulation magazine, published by the Sierra Club, ranked Warren Wilson third in 2007 among colleges nationwide in the fight against global warming. In the article titled "10 That GET IT," Sierra wrote of Warren Wilson: “This small Southeast star wears its environmental ethos on its sleeve and backs it up with a sustainably managed farm, garden and forest that provides food and timber for the campus; streetlamps that reduce light pollution; and community service as an integral part of the curriculum.” Warren Wilson was ranked No. 4 in 2008, and remained first in the Southeast.
Southeast's "Greenest College," July 2007 and July 2008 – WWC received one of the "Green Globe" awards the magazine handed out in this issue. According to the magazine, the annual awards "honor the organizations, movements, trends, products, and individuals in the Southeast making a positive impact on the health of the planet and its people." The magazine wrote of the college: "Warren Wilson is more than a liberal arts college, it's a 300-acre working farm and 700-acre forest that operates as a laboratory for sustainable practices. The college uses environmental sustainability to inform every aspect of campus life.... It's nice to see a school practice what it preaches, but [Warren Wilson's] most earth-friendly program is its education model of hands-on learning, which drives home sustainable ethics through mandatory work, study, and community service."
No. 4 among “40 Best College Towns,” September 2003 (& USA Today photo follow-up, Aug. 22, 2003) – Warren Wilson was selected No. 1 in the Southeast on Outside Magazine’s list of “40 schools that turn out smart grads with top-notch academic credentials, a healthy environmental ethos, and an A+ sense of adventure." The magazine also called Warren Wilson “one of the most earth-friendly colleges on the planet.” When USA Today followed up with its own Top 10, it published a large picture of a Warren Wilson paddler in its Friday travel section.
Carolina Living profile, March 2004 – After several visits to campus, Ben Brown wrote this extremely rare Southern Living profile of a college titled, “Lessons From the Land.” Not surprisingly, Ben decided to focus on the work program but also zeroed in on the farm. Several beautiful springtime photos accompanied his feature story.
Newsweek Magazine, August 2009 – The 2010 Kaplan Newsweek College Guide cited Warren Wilson as one of “25 Colleges That Might Be Right for You.” The guide says Warren Wilson is a good choice for “Environmentalists Who Need to Get Their Hands Dirty.” It adds that “the Warren Wilson Triad of work, academics and service produces first-class scholars,” and notes that “every student works, in a way most American undergraduates are not accustomed to.”
Our State Magazine, October 2009 – After a springtime visit to campus by editor-in-chief Elizabeth Hudson, WWC MFA alumna Elizabeth Brownrigg and a photographer came to campus to do a story titled “Working the Land” on the Farm and Work Program, distinctive aspects of the College that the media find continually interesting. The beautifully written and photographed feature spanned several pages in the magazine’s “Autumn Harvest” issue.
CommonWealth Magazine, Spring 2009 – In a standing feature titled, “What Works,” CommonWealth decided that what works is Warren Wilson’s work program, perhaps a good model to be replicated in Massachusetts. Associate Editor Alison Lobron came to campus for three days in February to focus on the work program, and wrote a lengthy piece with photos titled, “Labor lessons.” The article is one of many over the years that zeroed in on student work at Warren Wilson.
World Vision report (radio feature titled “INSULATE!, December 2008”) – After the Environmental News Network distributed a story on the College’s new INSULATE! program, Michelle Johnson of World Vision report (and the Winston-Salem Journal) expressed an interest in doing a radio feature on the new program. She came to the mountains in November to report on the weatherizing that students and staff did on the home of a Candler woman. World Vision report has aired on hundreds of stations across the country, including stations in Chicago, Boston and San Diego.
WNC Magazine (cover story titled “Back to the Land,” September 2008) – Asheville writer/editor Constance Richards wrote this article focusing on the Warren Wilson Farm, the College’s sustainable agriculture program, and a few area alumni who farm. The multi-page spread including several color photographs and a condensed timeline of the College. WNC Magazine is published by Gulfstream Communications, which also publishes regional magazines in Charleston, S.C., and Greenville, S.C.
Blue Ridge Country (“14 People and Places Making a Difference in the Region,” July/August 2008) – The 20th anniversary issue of the magazine selected Warren Wilson as the only college among its “14 Who are Shaping the Region.” The article opens with this paragraph: “Before ‘An Inconvenient Truth,’ before the biofuels bonanza and the carbon-neutral Super Bowl, there was Warren Wilson College. For generations, this small liberal arts college in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina has graduated legions of bright, enthusiastic people who today are scattered across the region – and the globe – working in a multitude of ways to save the planet.”
TheDailyGreen.com (No. 2 among “10 of the Greenest Colleges in America,” July 2008) – This online publication of Hearst Communications recognized Warren Wilson in a feature with the subtitle, “These Schools Are at the Head of the Class in Going Green.” The publication noted that Warren Wilson “has environmental sustainability baked right into its core,” and that its students “are aces at recycling and composting.” It also observed that the college is “a leader in green building and design.”
University Business Magazine (feature titled “A Working Education,” December 2007) – Warren Wilson was among the seven work colleges highlighted in the issue that featured a member of the WWC garden crew on the cover. “Regardless of where a student is assigned [in the work program], his or her best effort is fully expected,” the article notes. “The work program is designed to teach teamwork, responsibility, self-discipline, and the importance of serving others. ‘We expect our students to take on a sense of responsibility as individuals for something greater than themselves,’ says [Ian] Robertson. Students receive regular evaluations from their supervisor describing their work performance.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (front section news feature on Service Day, Aug. 23, 1997) – Reporter John Harmon visited the Warren Wilson campus and covered the 1997 Service Day in Chimney Rock, writing a story that appeared in a Saturday issue. His article, titled “N.C. college practicing the idealism it preaches,” noted that the massive effort in the wake of devastating floods in 1996 “was no one-time act of kindness for the school that practices and preaches 1960s- style idealism.”
The (Raleigh) Sunday News & Observer (front-page profile, Nov. 9, 1997) – Cynthia Barnett, who covered higher education for the paper, came to campus for a two-day visit to write a profile on the college titled “Work college has idyllic charm and a mission.” The subhead described the college as “Old-fashioned, newly relevant.” Her lengthy piece included several terrific photos.
The Sunday News & Observer (front-page feature on Berry Site, Aug. 1, 2004) – Chief science writer Catherine Clabby wrote the lead feature titled, “DIG FINDS EVIDENCE OF SPANISH FORT,” on the research by WWC professor David Moore and other archaeologists at the Berry Site near Morganton. A large front-page photograph and timeline accompanied the extensive article.
The Charlotte Observer (Sunday section-front feature on EcoDorm, March 28, 2004) – New higher education reporter Diane Suchetka featured the EcoDorm in a lengthy campus greening story titled, “Carolinas going green.” It noted that the EcoDorm “is saving the earth in dozens of ways.” The piece was one of Diane’s last major stories in Charlotte before she moved to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, which in 2005 mentioned the EcoDorm in an article by another reporter.
Note: In the past 12 years, the College also has been featured on an NPR nationally syndicated program, UNC-TV (“North Carolina Now” thrice and “North Carolina People” twice), WUNC-FM (“The State of Things” thrice), North Carolina magazine, The Greentree Gazette, Kiwi, The Laurel of Asheville, New Southerner, and University Business several times.