History | Cumberland University


Where We've Been

Cumberland’s history is steeped in groundbreaking achievement and respected tradition. The university has withstood the test of time, evolving into an advanced institution of higher learning.

University History Timeline

1842 – Cumberland University is founded.

1847 – The School of Law is founded, it is the first in Tennessee and west of the Appalachian Mountains.

1861-1865 – Civil War

1866 – All departments of the university are in operation in various locations of Lebanon.

1892 – Cumberland moves to its present location

1896 – Memorial Hall is completed

1942 – Cumberland celebrates 100th anniversary

1942 – Almost 850k Soldiers from 25 US Army divisions, making up the Red and Blue Armies, were training for World War II.  Headquartered at Cumberland University.

1946 – The Tennessee Baptist Convention assumed control of the University, ending a century of operation under the auspices of the Presbyterian Church.

1951 – The Tennessee Baptists close the College of Arts and Sciences and operate only the School of Law.

1956 – The Board of Trust secure an amendment to the Charter and change Cumberland to a private, independent corporation. The College of the Arts and Sciences is reopened as a two-year junior college, known as Cumberland College of Tennessee.

1961 – The Law School is sold to Samford University (then Howard College) in Birmingham, Alabama, after 114 Years.

1982 – The Board of Trust expands the academic programs of the junior college returning Cumberland to a four-year, degree institution. It resumed the old name of Cumberland University. It spent 28 years as a junior school.

1984 – First Phoenix Ball is held.

1986  – The first class of Baccalaureate Degrees graduates.

1995 – MBA program begins.

1997 – First class of MBA students graduate.

2015 – Dr. Paul C. Stumb is named the 26th President of CU.

2016 – Cumberland University changes the nickname of its athletic program from "Bulldogs" to "Phoenix,” stating that, "For more than 150 years, the Phoenix has personified the spirit of Cumberland University.”

2017 – Cumberland University rises to record enrollment.