University planning two May 10 commencements due to record class

Western Carolina University has scheduled two commencement ceremonies for Saturday, May 10, to accommodate the largest graduating class in the university’s history.

Instead of holding one ceremony in Ramsey Regional Activity Center on May 10, as previously announced, the university will hold commencement for graduate students at 10 a.m. that day, followed by a ceremony for undergraduate students at 4 p.m., said Fred Hinson, senior associate vice chancellor for academic affairs. Both commencements will be held in the Ramsey Center.

The 8,000-seat Ramsey Center is not large enough to handle the expected total 1,100-plus graduating students and their families and friends, Hinson said.

Because of burgeoning student enrollment that has produced larger graduating classes, the university already had been making plans to hold two commencements in May 2009. However, applications for graduation turned in recently by students indicate that at least 1,135 students expect to graduate this spring, making it necessary to switch to two ceremonies a year early, Hinson said.

WCU’s revised schedule for May 10 includes a rehearsal for graduate students at 8 a.m.; processional line-up for the graduate commencement at 9 a.m.; the 10 a.m. ceremony; and a reception for graduate students and their families and friends at 11:30 a.m. in the Grandroom of WCU’s A.K. Hinds University Center.

Rehearsal for undergraduate students will begin at 12:30 p.m. on May 10; followed by line-up at 3 p.m.; the ceremony at 4 p.m.; and a 5:30 p.m. reception for undergraduate students and their guests in the Ramsey Center.

Of the 1,135 students expecting to graduate, about 275 are graduate students. The exact number of students in WCU’s spring 2008 graduating class won’t be known until after final exam scores are tallied and reported to the university’s registrar’s office.

More information about WCU’s May 10 commencements is available at http://www.wcu.edu/registrar/Graduation/commencement1a.asp (link no longer active) or by calling (828) 227-7216.

To accommodate heavy traffic around the Ramsey Center for the 4 p.m. undergraduate commencement, WCU’s campus police plan to utilize a new traffic flow plan that is expected to improve the situation. Individuals planning on attending either ceremony can access traffic flow maps by clicking on the links in the “Dates and Events” section of the Web site previously listed.