Western Carolina University is planning a four-day series of ceremonies to honor graduates who were scheduled to participate in spring commencement events postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, students who completed degree requirements during this year’s summer sessions, and members of the fall 2020 graduating class.
Ceremonies are scheduled to begin Thursday, Dec. 10, and continue through Sunday, Dec. 13, with graduates to be grouped based on their degree, academic department and college. Commencement participants will be assigned a specific time block for their respective ceremony, and should monitor their WCU email account for details and updated information.
Commencement participants will be required to wear face coverings as they cross the stage of the Ramsey Regional Activity Center to receive their diploma covers and to be recognized by Chancellor Kelli R. Brown, Provost Richard D. Starnes and the dean of the college in which their major is housed. Photographs will be taken of the participants on stage in face coverings, with the opportunity for face covering-free photographs with family members adjacent to the stage.
Each graduate will be allowed to have no more than two guests attend his or her ceremony, and guests will be required to wear face coverings. Rather than be seated in the stands of the Ramsey Center, guests will walk with their graduating students into the facility and will have a front-row view from the arena floor (directly in front of the stage) of their student crossing the stage.
The current plans, which have been made in consultation with the Jackson County Department of Public Health, are subject to change based on conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, said Lowell Davis, associate vice chancellor for student success and chair of a campus commencement planning committee.
“We know that commencement is a significant milestone in the lives of our students, and we are working diligently to help them be able to appropriately celebrate their achievements,” Davis said. “While we won’t be able to have large crowds, multiple speakers or live musical performances, we will be able to provide our students with the things they tell us they value the most – the opportunity to graduate with their friends and classmates, to walk across the stage to receive their diploma cover, and to have photographs to chronicle the day.”
University officials have developed a schedule that assigns students who are eligible to attend fall commencement a time-ticket based on college and major. Students and up to two guests who arrive together with face coverings at the ticketed time will be admitted to the Ramsey Center. While specific arrival times for students and guests are not yet available, the ceremony dates by college have been set, with activities beginning at 9 a.m. each day, continuing until 9:30 p.m. Graduates will receive their specific arrival time through their official WCU email account and should look for a "Ceremony Arrival Time" e-mail from firstname.lastname@example.org and follow the instructions to complete the “Marching Order” registration.
David Orr Belcher College of Fine and Performing Arts - morning
College of Education and Allied Professions - afternoon and evening
College of Engineering and Technology - morning
College of Business - afternoon and evening
College of Health and Human Sciences - morning and afternoon
College of Arts and Sciences - morning and afternoon
WCU announced in March the postponement of all spring commencement exercises that were originally scheduled for May 8 and 9. University officials had considered a date in early August for the rescheduled ceremonies, but ongoing uncertainty regarding sufficient improvements in the COVID-19 situation combined with logistical difficulties of holding a large-scale event so close to the opening of the fall semester made the December dates a better option.
For more information, visit graduation.wcu.edu.