Cumberland University

Last updated

Cumberland University
Type Private
Established1842;179 years ago (1842)
President Paul C. Stumb IV
Location, ,
Colors Maroon and Black [1]
Athletics NAIAMid-South Conference
Nickname Phoenix
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. It was founded in 1842, though the current campus buildings were constructed between 1892 and 1896. [2]



Drawing of Cumberland University, c.1858 Cumberland University-drawing - c.1858.JPG
Drawing of Cumberland University, c.1858
Memorial Hall, 1918 Cumberland University Bulletin (1918) (14778838722).jpg
Memorial Hall, 1918

The university was founded by the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in 1842 and received its Tennessee State charter in 1843. In 1847 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. [2]

Following the war, the university's faculty included former Confederate general A. P. Stewart. He taught there during his post-Civil War Union parole. [2]

The Civil War nearly destroyed Cumberland University. University Hall was burned to the ground by Confederate forces under the command of General Joseph Wheeler. A Cumberland student wrote on a ruined Corinthian column the Latin Ex Cineribus Resurgam (From the ashes 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 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 Howard College, now known as 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 School of Law

In 1847 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. [2]

The trustees sold the School of Law 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 Circle K club, which is affiliated with Kiwanis International. [3] On February 13, 2010, Cumberland University hosted a conference basketball game, and donated half of its gate admissions to Sherry's Run, a non-profit organization created to benefit people with cancer. [4] Also, the Cumberland University cycling team formed its own chapter of local non-profit organization Ride for Reading. [5]

Greek Life

The university has 3 sororities and 5 fraternities. The sororities include the Lambda Omicron chapter of Alpha Omicron Pi and the Delta Mu chapter of Alpha Sigma Tau as well as Zeta Phi Beta (NPHC). [6] The fraternities include the Theta Prime chapter of Kappa Sigma, the Nu chapter of Sigma Chi. There are 3 NPHC fraternities : Gamma Rho Gamma chapter of Phi Beta Sigma, the Phi Delta Delta chapter of Omega Psi Phi and the Rho Rho Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi. [7]


Cumberland University Cumberland university.jpg
Cumberland University

Cumberland University teams, nicknamed athletically as the Phoenix, are part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the Mid-South Conference. The Phoenix formerly competed in the TranSouth Athletic Conference. Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, soccer, tennis, bowling, volleyball, track & field and wrestling; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, track & field, bowling 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 1903 season that began with a (6–0) win over Vanderbilt then a (0–6) loss to Sewanee and continued with a five-day road trip with victories over Alabama (44–0) November 14, 1903, LSU (41–0) November 16, 1903, and Tulane (28–0) November 18, 1903. Cumberland would play a postseason game against Coach John Heisman's Clemson team on Thanksgiving Day that ended in an 11–11 tie and a record of 4–1–1 [8] which gave Coach A.L. Phillips and Cumberland University the Championship of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association. [9] [10] The 1916 game against 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 1995 and 2006 teams were runner-up in this event.[ citation needed ]

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. [11] Cumberland's application to join Division II was denied in 2014. [12]

On January 4, 2016, Cumberland University changed the nickname of its athletic program from "Bulldogs" to "Phoenix", stating that, "For more than 150 years, the Phoenix has personified the spirit of Cumberland University." [13]

The 2017 soccer season for the women's program was a successful one. Head coach, Brian Davies, led his team to an undefeated winning streak for the regular season. The program made it to the Mid-South Conference finals where they were defeated 1-0 by rival, Lindsay Wilson College. [14]


The main building on campus was featured in Taylor Swift's music video "Love Story." [15]


Notable alumni

Memorial Hall at Cumberland University. Memorial hall cumberland university lebanon tennessee.jpg
Memorial Hall at Cumberland University.

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

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  1. Cumberland University Graphic Standards Manual (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on August 26, 2016. Retrieved June 12, 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 4 "Lebanon, Tennessee: A Tour of Our City" (PDF). Lebanon/Wilson County Chamber of Commerce. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 15, 2007. Retrieved February 5, 2007.
  3. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 27, 2010. Retrieved May 24, 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. "Sherry's Run - To Benefit Those Affected by Cancer - Lebanon, TN". Archived from the original on April 2, 2012. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
  5. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 16, 2010. Retrieved May 24, 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. "Sororities" . Retrieved February 7, 2018.
  7. "Fraternities" . Retrieved February 7, 2018.
  8. "Cumberland Historical Scores". Retrieved April 10, 2018.
  9. "Champions of the South regardless of conference affiliation".
  10. Langum, David J (January 2010). From Maverick to Mainstream: Cumberland School of Law, 1847–1997. p. 95. ISBN   9780820336183.
  11. "CU Becomes Provisional Member of GMAC". Archived from the original on September 25, 2013. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
  12. "Division II Admits its 300th Member". Retrieved September 28, 2015.
  13. "CU athletics launches new nickname". The Wilson Post. Retrieved January 4, 2016.
  14. TN, Streamline Technologies | Nashville. "Women's Soccer | News | Official Site of the Cumberland University Athletics". Retrieved February 12, 2018.
  15. TaylorSwiftVEVO (June 16, 2009), Taylor Swift - Love Story , retrieved August 2, 2016
  16. "Arkansas Governor Jefferson Davis". National Governors Association. Retrieved August 17, 2012.
  17. "HENRY AUGUSTUS SHARPE, Associate Justice - Supreme Court of Alabama, 1898 - 1904" (PDF). Judiciary of Alabama.

Coordinates: 36°12′14″N86°17′56″W / 36.204°N 86.299°W / 36.204; -86.299