As the 2017 convocation ceremony came to an end a new tradition officially began — a tradition with a distinct connection to the University’s past.
Recently the University installed a large ceremonial fire pit, called the “Heart of the Phoenix,” designed and built by Rick Wittrig of Fire Pit Art. Students will write on a piece of paper a fear, a challenge, a concern, or some other obstacle that might prevent them from accomplishing their dreams of becoming a Cumberland University graduate.
“When a student passes by the Heart, they will commit to the fire the fears and doubts that plague lesser scholars and at that moment be reborn a phoenix and will rise. This will be an important element of the Cumberland experience for students for many generations to come,” Dr. Stumb told students, faculty and staff.
“In the darkest days of the American Civil War, most of the students at Cumberland University left academia for the battlefield, brother fought brother, and during the fighting, many of University’s buildings were reduced to ashes,” he added.
“After the fighting ended, Mr. William E. Ward, an alumnus of the school, returned to campus to find a pile of rubble that once bore the weight of the campus’s finest building, he wrote upon the charred remains the word “Resurgam,” which is Latin for “I will arise” and was for him a promise that Cumberland would return to its glorious former state. This event gave birth to the university motto “E Cineribus Resurgam” or “Out of the ashes, I will arise” and the university symbol, the phoenix. This motto represents a pledge that Cumberland will arise from the ashes to live again; that it will endure, prosper, and illuminate the world for centuries to come,” he said.