Cumberland University

Jon Franklin (Class of 1989)

L to R:  Scott Lawrence, Jon Franklin, Paul Stumb

What does Cumberland University mean to you and how do you feel about being recognized as the recipient of the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award?

It’s hard to put into words how much CU means to me.  I joke with people that I’m about as Cumberland as you can get.  My dad grew up across the street, and the campus was basically his playground.  My grandmother housed students from the law school to supplement her income since my grandfather passed away.  I had an aunt and uncle attend school here, my brother and sister-in-law graduated from Cumberland.  I met my wife Karen here on campus and even got married in Baird Chapel in 1990.  I certainly would not be where I am today without the influence CU has had on me.  My wife and children, Erin and Andrew, are what mean the most to me, and if it weren’t for CU, they may not have been part of my life.

I honestly did not know CU had a Distinguished Alumni Award, so I was quite surprised to get a call saying I was being recognized.  I certainly am humbled to have even been considered.  There are so many more people I can think have that seem much more deserving than I.

Do you have any special memories or stories about Cumberland that you would like to share? Favorite professor, coach, staff member that greatly influenced you?

I have so many great memories of my time at CU.  Every day playing baseball for Coach Woody Hunt was special.  I was part of Cumberland’s first World Series team in 1988, and I am honored to be a part of the great CU baseball tradition.  The fight with Aquinas, the day it rained potatoes as we earned the right to go to the World Series,  and the day we beat Auburn and their star player,  Bo Jackson are just a few baseball memories.  Another special memory revolves around homecoming in 1987.  Karen and I weren’t dating yet, but she was nominated to the homecoming court and asked me to be her escort.  Karen was also student council president and for some reason scheduled homecoming the night we played David Lipscomb.  Lipscomb’s men had won the national championship the year before and they always had a good women’s team, as well.  Our ladies upset Lipscomb in the first game.  Karen was announced as the homecoming queen between games, and then our men sealed the night, beating Lipscomb in the final game.  The day after my next date with Karen, I went 5 for 5 against MTSU, and I was smart enough to hang on to her.

As far as staff members go, no one has had any more impact on me outside my parents than Woody Hunt.  He’s like a second father to so many of the players; it’s just not possible to put into words how much he means to me.  Dr. Jack Howard and Dr. Suhail Massad were two of my favorite professors.  They were both instrumental in helping me get into optometry school at the Southern College of Optometry, but also had prepared me to do well once I got there.

Tell us about your current and past jobs and how Cumberland may have helped you prepare for success.

Thankfully, my current and past jobs are one in the same.  I was blessed to obtain my first job with Dr. Tom Roberson in 1993, and eventually bought his Mt.  Juliet practice in 1994. We opened Franklin Family Eye Care in Mt. Juliet and have been able to grow and thrive in the Wilson County community for the last twenty-three years.

When I entered optometry school, I was a little concerned that I might be behind since I had gone to such a small school for undergraduate studies, but soon realized CU had more than prepared me for the challenges of professional education.

Tell us about the impact Cumberland has had on you as well as the impact you see the university having in our local and regional communities.

Cumberland is a vital part of the Lebanon/Wilson County community as well as the surrounding areas.  High school baseball is better because of Cumberland; the arts are better because of Cumberland; our local schools are better because of Cumberland.  The spirit of Cumberland affects even our friendships and business relationships because Cumberland really ties our community together.  Every aspect of community life is better because of the presence and influence Cumberland has had on the soul of our community.  I am excited about Cumberland’s future and know with our continued support it will positively affect the lives of many generations to come.