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Cumberland University is a private university in Lebanon, Tennesseemarker founded in 1842. The current campus was built 1892-1896.

Early history

Cumberland University Drawing - c.1858
The University was founded by the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. The original building, designed by William Strickland in 1844, housed schools of art, law and theology. The building was burned during the American Civil War.

After the American Civil War, the University was briefly host to former Confederate general and Rogersville, Tennesseemarker native A. P. Stewart, who taught during his post-war Union parole.

Even in its early years, Cumberland University had a reputation for high-quality education. Its former law school, the Cumberland School of Lawmarker, was at one time was reputed to have had more of its alumni elected to Congress than any other in the South.

Complete History

Founded in 1842, Cumberland received its Tennessee State charter the following year. It was founded by the leaders of the Cumberland Presbyterian church. A School of Law, the first in Tennessee and the first west of the Appalachian Mountains, was added in 1852 and a School of Theology was added in 1854.

The Civil War interrupted Cumberland’s progress when University Hall, designed by Philadelphia architect William Strickland, was burned to the ground after Union occupancy. A student wrote across a ruined Corinthian column the Latin word Resurgam – I will arise – and the mythical phoenix became the institutional symbol. By 1866, all departments were in operation in various locations in the town of Lebanon. In 1892, Cumberland moved to its present location.

For nearly a century after the Civil War, Cumberland maintained a reputation for academic excellence. After World War II Cumberland experienced several changes in sponsorship and programs. In 1946, The Tennessee Baptist Convention assumed control of the University, ending a century of operation under the auspices of the 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, changed the institution to a private, independent corporation, and reopened the College of the Arts and Sciences 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, returned Cumberland to a four-year, degree-granting institution, and resumed the name Cumberland University. Since then, Cumberland has expanded the academic program to include many new majors and specialized student learning opportunities.

The University believes that a broad education, based in the liberal arts, is the best foundation for a lifetime of learning in a complex world. Students from every state in the nation and from many foreign countries have attended Cumberland. Its alumni include (14) governors, more than eighty (80) members of the United States Congress, two Supreme Court Justices, three United States ambassadors, and United States Secretary of State and founder of the United Nations, Cordell Hull. Today, Cumberland University continues to grow as a distinguished institution offering educational opportunities that are responsive to the changing needs of society and the workplace.

Cumberland School of Law

For many years the law school was located in historic Caruthers Hall, named for Robert Looney Caruthers, a founder of Cumberland University. The school fell on hard times during the Great Depression, however, as was common with many smaller private colleges, and was slow to recover, being forced to sell the law school to what is now Samford Universitymarker in Birmingham, Alabamamarker in 1962 and to operate only as a junior college until the 1980s when university status could be restored.


Cumberland football began on October 26, 1894 with a 6-6 tie with Peaboby an finish 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 6-0 loss to Sewanee and continued with a five day road trip that fished with victories over Tennessee (Medical)(86-0), Tulane (28-0), LSU (41-0), Alabama (44-0), and Grant of Chattanooga (92-0). Cumberland would play a postseason game against Coach John Heisman's Clemson team on Thanksgiving Day that ended in a 11-11 tie and gave Coach A.L. Phillips and Cumberland University the Championship of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association. That game was the first invitational post-season championship football game in the South. Cumberland also won the Smoky Mountain Conference Championships in 1932, 1933, 1934 and 1935. Ironically, Cumberland may well be best-known for being on the losing end of the most lopsided college football game in history, 222-0 to Georgia Techmarker in 1916. A more praiseworthy athletic effort was that of the 2004 baseball team, 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.

Other intercollegiate sports are conducted under the auspices of the TranSouth Athletic Conference, which does not contest football. 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.

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

Notable alumni

Memorial Hall at Cumberland University.

The school's alumni include over 80 congressmen and 30 college presidents.

See also


External links

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