Western Carolina University will hold three commencement ceremonies over a two-day period – Friday and Saturday, May 10-11 – to recognize the academic achievements of the university’s record-breaking spring graduating class.
Commencement for WCU’s Graduate School will be held at 7 p.m. May 10. Commencement for the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Education and Allied Professions, and Fine and Performing Arts will begin at 10 a.m. May 11, and that event will be followed the same day by a 3:30 p.m. ceremony for the College of Business, College of Health and Human Sciences, and Kimmel School of Construction Management and Technology. All the ceremonies will take place at Ramsey Regional Activity Center.
After all the scores from final exams are tallied and academic records are finalized, WCU’s spring class, including both undergraduate and graduate students, is expected to total about 1,365 students, an increase of 140 students over last year’s spring class and the largest graduating class in university history.
Eighty-one members of this year’s class are Jamaican students who currently are completing academic requirements in that Caribbean country to receive their education degrees through a program WCU offers to Jamaican educators. A revision in the Jamaican teachers’ academic schedule has resulted in them finishing their degrees in the spring, rather than in the fall, and so they will be considered members of WCU’s spring class, instead of the fall class. Even without that change in schedule, however, this year’s class still would be WCU’s largest ever by about 60 students. The Jamaican students won’t be participating in WCU’s ceremonies in Cullowhee, but commencement will be held for them in Jamaica at a later date.
The university schedules three commencements on the Cullowhee campus in the spring to allow the Ramsey Center to accommodate the large number of graduating students who will be participating in the ceremonies and the audiences that will attend. About 1,200 students are expected to don caps and gowns for this year’s events. WCU commencements are open to everyone, with no limit on the number of family members and friends who can attend.
WCU Chancellor David O. Belcher will preside over the May 10-11 ceremonies and deliver his charge to the degree candidates at all three events. WCU faculty member Chris Cooper, the university’s recipient of the 2013 University of North Carolina Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching, will deliver the primary address at the Friday night Graduate School commencement, and then he will be presented the award during the Saturday morning ceremony.
Traffic is always heavy for commencement on WCU’s campus. University officials urge those attending to plan on arriving at the Ramsey Center at least one hour before the events begin. On-campus shuttle services will be available for the Saturday ceremonies.
WCU police recommend that those attending the events consider using Route 1002 (Old Cullowhee Road) to access campus through the back entrance. Drivers also are asked to refrain from dropping off visitors while sitting in travel lanes around the Ramsey Center, as that endangers the visitors and creates traffic backups.
More driving and parking information, including a map of traffic patterns, is available at this website: Maps, Parking and Accommodations.
For more general information about WCU’s May commencement ceremonies, contact the university registrar’s office at 828-227-7216.