New traffic pattern planned for WCU’s undergraduate commencement on May 10

Western Carolina University’s police department will implement a new traffic flow plan on campus beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 10, to deal with the large number of visitors expected to attend the university’s undergraduate commencement, which is scheduled for 4 p.m. that day.

About 860 students will be participating in the undergraduate commencement at WCU’s Ramsey Regional Activity Center, with their families and friends expected to fill the Ramsey Center close to its capacity of 8,000.

For undergraduate commencement, all traffic on the Highway 107 side of campus will enter the campus through the main entrance. The entrance at the intersection of Highway 107 and Forest Hills Road will be closed, said Tom Johnson, the university’s chief of police.

WCU faculty and staff heading to commencement, and those wishing to access handicap parking, should get in the right-hand left-turn lane as they approach the main entrance from the north (Sylva) on Highway 107, Johnson said. Those same groups approaching the main entrance from the south on Highway 107 should turn right at the main entrance and remain in the right lane.

All incoming commencement traffic will exit out the right side of the traffic circle in front of H.F. Robinson Administration Building onto Centennial Lane, which will be all one-way traffic. Those heading to faculty, staff and handicap parking will turn right off Centennial Drive onto Catamount Way to access the correct parking lots, while all other commencement traffic will continue on Centennial Drive to access other lots, Johnson said.

Immediately following undergraduate commencement, normal traffic flow will resume, except that police officers will make both lanes of Forest Hills Road one-way from the Ramsey Center to Highway 107 to relieve congestion there.

Before the 4 p.m. undergraduate commencement, another 275 WCU students will be donning caps and gowns for the 10 a.m. graduate commencement at the Ramsey Center. Traffic flow patterns for that ceremony will not be altered, Johnson said.

Graduating students and visitors who plan to attend either ceremony are encouraged to arrive early to have plenty of time to find parking and arrive at the Ramsey Center, Johnson said.

For both commencements, WCU’s Cat-Tran shuttle system will be operating to transport people from parking lots to the Ramsey Center, and then back to the parking lots after the ceremonies.

A reception for graduate students and their families and friends will be held after graduate commencement in the Grandroom of WCU’s A.K. Hinds University Center. Shuttles will transport visitors from the Ramsey Center to Hinds University Center for the reception.

For both commencements, motorists who need to drop off passengers at the Ramsey Center will be allowed to do that at the drop-off circle located behind the Ramsey Center on Forest Hills Road.

WCU faculty and staff members attending commencement are reminded to have their parking permits displayed, and individuals wishing to park in handicap parking must display a valid state-issued permit.

Johnson noted that local motorists who are just passing through the area around WCU prior to both commencements should consider using other routes, such as Old Cullowhee Road, to reach areas east of campus, and should avoid the main entrance on Highway 107. Non-commencement traffic that does enter the main campus entrance should exit out the left side of the traffic circle onto Memorial Drive, he said.

For more information about traffic patterns for WCU’s two May 10 commencements, contact Johnson at (828) 227-7301.

More general information about WCU’s May 10 commencements is available at this Web site,, or by calling (828) 227-7216.