Cumberland University


Alumni Hold Prominent Commencement Roles


Cumberland University is proud to announce that a pair of distinguished alumni will take on important duties as part of the University's 166th Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 3.

The Rev. William Lee Baker, a member of the Cumberland University Class of 1930 who will celebrate his 100th birthday in August, will serve as the macebearer for the weekend ceremony.

Among Cumberland's oldest living alumni, Baker was born August 3, 1908 in New Middle, Tenn. to Please and Dora Baker. At the age of 12, he and his family moved to Lebanon; where Baker would graduate from Lebanon High School and go on to earn a bachelor's degree from CU in 1930.

Baker has served numerous churches during his lifetime. Shortly after graduating from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1932, he was called to his first church, Hopewell in Robertson County. From 1949 until 1973, he served as pastor of First Baptist Church in Donelson. During his time there, he saw the construction of a new auditorium and a peak membership of 1,871 members. Between 1964 and 1971, Baker held several positions with the Southern Baptist Convention, including as a member of the Executive Board of the Tennessee Convention.

Since retiring in 1973, Baker has continued to minister by serving nearly 30 churches as interim pastor, the most recent being Calvary Baptist Church on Sparta Pike in Wilson County.

Baker has said one of his fondest memories was delivering the "Sermon on the Mount" in Cumberland's historic Baird Chapel in October of 1975.

"I cannot think of a better person to lead this year's processional than Rev. Baker," CU President Dr. Harvill C. Eaton remarked. "He has led a remarkable life and is an exemplary citizen. Our University, our graduates and our faculty will be happy to welcome such a venerable patriarch of the Cumberland University family back to campus."

The convocation for the University's 166th Commencement will be delivered by another CU graduate, John Hunn (1987).

During his time at Cumberland, Hunn was engaged in a number of campus activities. He played baseball and basketball, and he served as the first-ever president of Cumberland's Baptist Student Union. Hunn was recently named senior pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lebanon.

"We are so very fortunate to welcome these upstanding men back to their alma mater, and we are grateful they have elected to be a part of our 166th Commencement ceremony," Eaton concluded.  "They are men of character with giving hearts and a steadfast commitment to a higher power, and they are fine examples for our graduating class."

Cumberland's 166th Commencement ceremony will be held on Saturday, May 3 at 10 a.m. on Memorial Lawn. For more information, please visit