Cumberland University


Grateful Son Honors Mother's Love for CU


In the 1920s, Cumberland University made a lasting impression on a young student from Shop Springs, Tennessee. That student was Ellen Bryan, who studied home economics at Cumberland between 1925 and 1928. Miss Bryan married Eugene Grant Williams of Norene, Tennessee, in 1928. Throughout the rest of her life she frequently shared stories of her memories of Cumberland with her family and those stories made an impression as well.

To honor her memory and affection for the school and to make a continued impression on the students of today, her son Jimmy and his wife Betty have gifted $250,000 to Cumberland University. Jimmy and Betty are from Atlanta, Georgia, where he retired as Chairman and CEO of SunTrust Banks.

In appreciation for this extremely generous gift, the University elected to name the atrium of the recently renovated Learning and Career Commons in memory of Ellen Bryan Williams.

Since its renovation, the Learning and Career Commons has become a main focal point on campus for student activity outside of the normal classrooms. The facility provides students with a wide array of career training opportunities about their chosen areas of study.

According to University President Harvill C. Eaton, “The activities within the Learning and Career Commons are helping to create the memories and experiences that will benefit our students of today and tomorrow. We are delighted that Mrs. Williams’ story and her dedication to family and education will now become a visible narrative of this wonderful space and our great University.”