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Cullowhee prepares for 2014 spring commencement ceremony

Western Carolina University will hold a trio of commencement ceremonies over a two-day period – Friday and Saturday, May 9-10 – to recognize the academic achievements of what is expected to be a record-breaking spring class.

Commencement for WCU’s Graduate School will be held at 7 p.m. May 9. Commencement for the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Education and Allied Professions, and Fine and Performing Arts will begin at 10 a.m. May 10, and that event will be followed the same day by a 2 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 recipients of both undergraduate and graduate degrees, is expected to total about 1,385 graduates, which would be the largest class in university history and 45 more graduates than in last year’s record spring class. Boosted by surging enrollments, the size of WCU’s spring class has doubled in the last 11 years.

The university 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. About 1,290 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 all three ceremonies and deliver his charge to the degree candidates at each event. The Saturday afternoon commencement will include the presentation of an honorary doctor of business degree to David A. Woodcock Jr., a Flat Rock resident who has earned a reputation as an icon of entrepreneurship during a career that has spanned more than 60 years. WCU faculty member Annette Debo, the university’s recipient of the 2014 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 she 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.

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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

For more general information about WCU’s May commencement ceremonies, contact the university Registrar’s Office at 828.227.7216.

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