A Cullowhee resident who directed WCU’s Office of Public Information for 30 years will receive an honorary doctorate of letters as the university holds a trio of commencement ceremonies over a two-day period, Friday and Saturday, May 7-8, at the Ramsey Regional Activity Center.
Alfred Douglas Reed was an adviser and mentor for six WCU presidents and chancellors during his three decades as director of public information (now public relations). A Tennessee native who was raised in Weaverville, Reed worked in newspapers, including the Asheville Citizen-Times and Shelby Daily Star, for 17 years before beginning his career at WCU in 1966.
Reed was a key leader in the university’s development as it became a member of the University of North Carolina system and enrollment more than doubled, and he was WCU’s eloquent spokesman in communications with the news media. Reed also was frequently called upon to serve civic organizations around the region, and he developed the university’s first journalism concentration as a tenured associate professor of English.
“Doug Reed is one of the most respected people I have ever known,” said Jim Manring, WCU senior director of development who has known Reed for more than 30 years. “Doug possesses a remarkable combination of intelligence and common sense, and many of the university’s leaders have sought and valued his sage advice over the years.”
Reed is a recipient of WCU’s Paul A. Reid Distinguished Service Award and the Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Award. He retired in 1996.
Record-breaking spring class to walk across commencement stage
More than 2,000 current and former Western Carolina University students will be honored for their academic achievements during the three commencement ceremonies. 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 events. 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 and who already received degrees. Those graduates were scheduled to participate in WCU’s fall commencement in December, but that ceremony was canceled when a snowstorm 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 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 May 8 will include an address by WCU graduate student Jordan Parsons and the awarding of honorary doctoral degrees to Reed and to WCU alumnus and banjo master Marc Pruett.
Traffic always is heavy for commencement ceremonies on WCU’s campus, and university officials urge those attending to arrive at the Ramsey Center one hour before events begin.