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Cumberland University

Cumberland University
Established 1842
Type Private
President Dr. Paul C. Stumb IV
Students 1,500
Location Lebanon, Tennessee, U.S.
Colors      Maroon     White
     Grey    Black
Athletics NAIA (Mid-South)
Nickname Bulldogs
For other institutions called "Cumberland College," see Cumberland College. For the school in Williamsburg, Kentucky, see University of the Cumberlands.

Cumberland University is a private university in Lebanon, Tennessee, United States. It was founded in 1842, though the current campus buildings were constructed between 1892 and 1896.[1]


  • History 1
    • Cumberland School of Law 1.1
  • Community outreach 2
  • Athletics 3
  • Presidents 4
  • Notable alumni 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Drawing of Cumberland University, c.1858

The university was founded by the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and received its Tennessee State charter in 1843. In 1852 the Cumberland Presbyterian church leaders added a law school, the first in Tennessee and the first west of the Appalachian Mountains, and in 1854 a school of theology was begun.

The original building, designed by Philadelphia architect William Strickland, housed schools of art, law and theology. It was burned by the Union Army during the American Civil War.[1]

Following the war, the university's faculty included former Confederate general A. P. Stewart. He taught there during his post-Civil War Union parole.[1]

From its early years, Cumberland University maintained a reputation for high-quality education. The Cumberland School of Law at one time was said to have had more of its alumni elected to Congress than any other in the South.

The American Civil War nearly destroyed Cumberland University. University Hall was burned to the ground when Union forces occupied the campus, a fate common to many Southern institutes of learning. A Cumberland student wrote on a ruined Corinthian column the Latin Resurgam (I will arise). The university thereafter adopted the mythical phoenix bird as its symbol. By 1866, just one year after the war's end, all departments were again operating in various locations in the town of Lebanon. Cumberland University moved to its present campus location in 1892.

The university fell on hard times during the Great Depression, as did most small private colleges. After World War II, Cumberland experienced several changes in sponsorship and programs. In 1946, The Tennessee Baptist Convention assumed control of the school, ending a century of operation by the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

In 1951, the Tennessee Baptists closed the College of Arts and Sciences and operated only the School of Law. In 1956, the Board of Trust secured an amendment to the Charter and changed Cumberland to a private, independent corporation. The College of the Arts and Sciences was reopened as a two-year junior college, known as Cumberland College of Tennessee. In 1962, the assets of the School of Law were transferred to Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama.

The Board of Trust expanded the academic programs of the junior college in 1982, returning Cumberland to a four-year, degree institution. It resumed the old name of Cumberland University. Since then, Cumberland has expanded its academic program to include new majors and specialized student-learning opportunities.

Cumberland University believes that a broad education, based in the liberal arts, is the best foundation for a lifetime of learning. Students from every state and from many foreign countries now attend Cumberland. Its alumni include 14 governors, more than 80 members of the United States Congress, two Supreme Court justices, three United States ambassadors, and one United States Secretary of State (Cordell Hull, known as the "father of the United Nations").

Cumberland School of Law

In 1852 Cumberland Presbyterian church leaders added the Cumberland School of Law, the first law school in Tennessee and the first west of the Appalachian Mountains. For many years the law school was located in historic Caruthers Hall, named for Robert Looney Caruthers, a founder of Cumberland University.[1]

The trustees sold the law school and its assets in 1962 to what is now Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. The law school continues to operate there.

Community outreach

Cumberland University gives back to the local community in many ways. Cumberland has a Ride for Reading.[4]


Cumberland University teams, nicknamed athletically as the Bulldogs, are part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the Mid-South Conference. The Bulldogs formerly competed in the TranSouth Athletic Conference. Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, soccer, tennis and wrestling; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball.

Cumberland football began on October 26, 1894 with a 6-6 tie with Peabody and finished that first year with a 2-1-1 season record. The early days of Cumberland football were very promising. The pinnacle of the early days of CU football was the Georgia Tech is famous as the most lopsided-scoring game in the history of college football, which was a 0-222 loss for Cumberland University.

Cumberland's baseball program is probably its best-known athletic team, especially those of the 2004, 2010, and 2014 baseball seasons, which won the World Series of the NAIA; the 2006 team was runner-up in this event. The football team is a member of the Mid-South Conference. In 2008 the Football team won a share of the Mid-South Western Championship.

In addition, Cumberland achieved a top-ten finish at the National Collegiate Cycling Association's National Championship, its women's basketball team finished as NAIA National Tournament Runner-Up in 2007, and Cumberland achieved a National Tournament appearance for the No. 17-ranked Men's Tennis Team in 2007. The men's basketball team also earned success in the 2008-2009 basketball season earning another trip to the National Tournament.

Cumberland University's Women's Basketball team won the Mid-South Conference title in 2012-2013 and lost in semi finals of the NAIA national tournament in Frankfort Kentucky

For the 2008 season, CU's football earned a share of the Mid-South Conference West Division.

On August 7, 2013, Cumberland University was granted provisional membership into the Great Midwest Athletic Conference (G-MAC) after a vote of league presidents, paving the way for the University to apply to the NCAA for admittance into Division II in February 2014.[8] Cumberland's application to join Division II was denied in 2014.[9]


  • Franceway Ranna Cossitt, 1842 – 1844
  • Thomas C. Anderson, 1844 – 1866
  • Benjamin W. McDonnold, 1866 – 1873
  • Nathan Green, Jr., 1873 – 1902
  • David Earle Mitchell, 1902 – 1906
  • Nathan Green, Jr. (Acting), 1906 – 1909
  • Winstead Paine Bone, 1909 – 1914
  • Samuel Andrew Coile, 1914 – 1916
  • Homer Allin Hill (Acting), 1916 – 1917
  • Edward Powell Childs, 1917 – 1920
  • Andrew Blake Buchanan (Acting), 1920 – 1922
  • John Royal Harris, 1922 – 1926
  • Ernest Looney Stockton, 1926 – 1941
  • Laban Lacy Rice, 1941 – 1946
  • Edwin Smith Preston, 1946 – 1950
  • W. Edwin Richardson, 1950 – 1952
  • Sam B. Gilreath, 1952 – 1956
  • Charles B. Havens, 1956 – 1958
  • Ernest Looney Stockton Jr., 1958 – 1983
  • Robert N. Clement, 1983 – 1988
  • M. Walker Buckalew, 1988 – 1991
  • J. Thomas Mills, 1991 – 1992
  • Ray C. Phillips, 1992 – 1995
  • Clair Martin, 1995 – 2000
  • Charlene Kozy, 2000 – 2004
  • Harvill C. Eaton, 2004 – 2015
  • Paul C. Stumb IV, 2015 – present

Notable alumni

Memorial Hall at Cumberland University.

The school's alumni include more than eight congressmen and thirty college presidents.


  1. ^ a b c d "Lebanon, Tennessee: A Tour of Our City" (PDF). Lebanon/Wilson County Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved February 5, 2007. 
  2. ^ Cumberland University Student Organizations
  3. ^ Sherry's Run and Cumberland University Team Up
  4. ^ Cumberland University Starts New Chapter of RfR
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Champions of the South regardless of conference affiliation". 
  7. ^ Langum, David J. From Maverick to Mainstream: Cumberland School of Law, 1847-1997. p. 95. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Division II Admits its 300th Member". Retrieved 28 September 2015. 
  10. ^ "Arkansas Governor Jefferson Davis". National Governors Association. Retrieved August 17, 2012. 

External links

  • Official website
  • Official athletics website

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