NCCU to Confer Record Number of Degrees Saturday

North Carolina Central University will set a record Saturday for the number of degrees it awards at a Fall Commencement.

The university will confer about 600 diplomas during the graduation ceremony at the public university. The actual number of students who will cross the stage will be slightly lower than the number of degrees conferred, since some students receive dual degrees.

The total includes more than 350 undergraduate and 230 graduate and law diplomas, according to NCCU’s Office of the Registrar. The university offers master’s and professional degrees in law, business administration and the sciences.

NCCU awarded 467 degrees in December 2009, which set the previous record. In December 2007, the university awarded 432 diplomas.

“We have yet to conduct the analysis but we are hopeful this is a sign that our efforts to increase retention and graduation rates are paying off,” said NCCU Chancellor Charlie Nelms.

Commencement begins at 9 a.m. Saturday in McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium. Graduates will hear a commencement address by U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D – N.C.), an NCCU alumnus. Butterfield represents North Carolina’s First Congressional District, and won re-election to a fourth term last month.

N.C. Central University instituted December commencements in 1994. Thirty-one graduate and undergraduate degrees were awarded that year.

Rather than make them wait until May to receive their degrees, colleges instituted mid-year graduations several decades ago, because larger numbers of students were finishing course work at the mid-year mark.

At its Spring 2010 Commencement in May, NCCU granted nearly 800 degrees.

A former state Superior and appeals court judge, Butterfield received his undergraduate and law degrees from NCCU.