More than 2,000 current and former Western Carolina University students will be honored for their academic achievements as the university holds a trio of commencement ceremonies over a two-day period, May 7-8, at the Ramsey Regional Activity Center.
A record-breaking spring class of 1,271 WCU students, including 1,002 undergraduates and 269 graduate students, are currently completing academic requirements and are eligible to take part in the commencements. They make up the largest graduating class in WCU history.
Members of the spring class will be joined in donning caps and gowns by about 800 WCU alumni who completed their degree requirements in August or December of 2009, and who already have been conferred degrees. Those graduates were scheduled to participate in WCU’s regular fall commencement last December, but that ceremony was canceled due to a snowstorm that struck the region.
Commencement exercises for WCU’s Graduate School will be held at the Ramsey Center at 7 p.m. Friday, May 7. Commencement for the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Education and Allied Professions, and Fine and Performing Arts will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 8, and that event will be followed by a ceremony for the College of Business, College of Health and Human Sciences, and Kimmel School of Construction Management and Technology at 3:30 p.m. May 8.
Three ceremonies were planned to accommodate the number of current and former students who will be participating, as well as the crowds expected to attend, said Fred Hinson, senior associate vice chancellor for academic affairs and chair of the university’s commencement committee. WCU’s commencements are open to everyone, with no limit on the number of family members and friends who can attend.
WCU Chancellor John W. Bardo will preside over the three commencements and deliver the charge to the degree candidates and graduates. A member of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors will attend the afternoon ceremony on May 8 to present the UNC system’s highest teaching honor, the Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching, to Gibbs Knotts, WCU associate professor of political science and public affairs. Knotts will deliver the primary address at the Friday night Graduate School commencement.
The morning ceremony on May 8 will include an address by WCU graduate student Jordan Parsons and the awarding of honorary doctorate degrees to WCU alumnus and banjo master Marc Pruett and to Doug Reed, a key figure in WCU’s development who directed the university’s public information office from 1966 to 1996.
Traffic always is heavy for commencement ceremonies on WCU’s campus, and university officials urge those attending to plan to arrive at the Ramsey Center one hour before the events begin.
For more information about WCU’s May commencements, contact the university’s registrar’s office at 828-227-7216.