WCU signs off on massive directional signs

The Western Carolina University Campus is experiencing a transition in decoration and direction.

New signs of all sizes have popped up in front of campus buildings and roadways directing students, faculty, staff and visitors where to go and how to get there. Ongoing for a few years, the project has caused interest, controversy, and a bit of hilarity.

Wiley Harris, director of Facilities Planning, Design, and Construction, said WCU has worked on the new sign concept since 2009. Harris and his staff placed three different sizes and panels of white and purple signs from the APCO Signs Company in Atlanta around campus starting at the beginning of the semester.

“All of the signage should be in place by the end of next week, if weather permits,” Harris said. “At that time a representative from APCO and the university architect will review all in-place signs and correct any errors.”

Last week, students posted a photo of one of the signs on Facebook. The campus bookstore’s sign had a printing error and spelled “University” incorrectly. The snapshot went viral across Facebook’s Western Carolina University network, spreading from student-to-student and even official University pages.

“The misspelled bookstore sign was taken down a couple of hours after it was installed, soon after the misspelling was noticed by university staff,” Harris said. “The sign company has since provided a new sign, which has been reinstalled at no cost to WCU.”

Harris’s office, WCU Facilities Management, developed the wording of the signs in association with university administration and appropriate university departments in order to ensure proper wording and terminology.

“Then we worked with APCO in developing the sign and graphics for the various types of signs to be installed on campus,” Harris said. “In July 2009, a mock-up sign was installed at the Cordelia Camp Building for review by the university administrators for a directive on how to proceed. Once design and appearance were approved, the new campus signage was developed, priced, reviewed and approved for purchase and installation.”

Costs ranged from $785 to $2,750 each for the biggest of the designs. Funding came from “non-recurring funds that are set aside for state-funded facilities, with some additional funding from Auxiliary Services and Student Affairs for their associated buildings,” Harris said.

With the recent hike in tuition fees and worry over budget cuts, students have experienced mixed reactions on the new signs.

Cameron Feaster, a junior, said he thought the signs provided a “professional” look, but wondered if it was necessary to spend money where it was not needed.

“There are a lot better things they could’ve used that money for,” Feaster said.

He continued that the money could have helped the Cat’s Den, a popular student hangout.

“There’re perhaps two games there that work without problems, all the others are always out of order,” Feaster said. “It sort of ruins the whole purpose of the place.”

Emily Schaffer, a Residents Assistant, believed that purchasing new signs was a redundant project.

“I think they are helpful for potential students, but they are a bit much… If I’m not mistaken, there were signs before which people could see,” she said. “I understand that the university’s effort to make the campus look nice and modern but with budget cuts and raised tuition, any extra money should be saved.”

Facilities Planning, Design and Construction added that they “continue to plan for the present and future campus needs and its further beautification,” Harris said. However, they currently do not have details for any specific upcoming projects.