Commencement ceremonies scheduled for May 5-6

Rachael Johnson of Asheville, a member of WCU’s spring graduating class, joined in a campus tradition recently by donning her purple graduation gown to get her photograph made with the Catamount statue at the university entrance.

Western Carolina University has scheduled three commencement ceremonies over a two-day period – Friday, May 5, and Saturday, May 6 – to recognize the academic achievements of graduating students who comprise what is expected to be the university’s sixth straight record spring class.

Commencement for WCU’s Graduate School will be held at 7 p.m. May 5. Commencement for the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Education and Allied Professions, and Fine and Performing Arts will begin at 10 a.m. May 6, and that event will be followed the same day by a 2 p.m. ceremony for the colleges of Business, Health and Human Sciences, and Engineering 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 recipients of both undergraduate and graduate degrees, is expected to total more than 1,500 graduates, which would be the largest class in university history.

Jerry Wolfe

WCU schedules three commencements on the Cullowhee campus in the spring to allow the Ramsey Center to accommodate the number of graduating students who will be participating in the ceremonies and the audiences that will attend. Nearly 1,400 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.

For those who cannot be there in person, all three ceremonies will be streamed live at

The Saturday morning commencement will include the awarding of an honorary doctorate of humane letters to Cherokee elder Jeremiah “Jerry” Wolfe. A U.S. Navy veteran of World War II, Wolfe is widely regarded as a living repository of the traditional language and culture of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

Julie Johnson-Busbin

Julie Johnson-Busbin, WCU professor of sales and marketing, and also the university’s recipient of the 2017 University of North Carolina Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching, will deliver the primary address at the Friday night Graduate School commencement. Johnson-Busbin will receive her award during the Saturday afternoon undergraduate 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 all three ceremonies.

More driving and parking information, including a map of traffic patterns, is available by visiting the website and clicking on the link for information about parking and lodging.

For more general information about WCU’s May commencement ceremonies, contact the university Registrar’s Office at 828-227-7216.