Cumberland University holds 174th commencement


The weather could not have been any better for Cumberland University’s 174th commencement ceremony Saturday with approximately 486 graduates receiving diplomas.

The ceremony began with a bagpiper and drummer leading a processional of administrators, faculty and students from the Dallas Floyd Gymnasium to the front lawn of Memorial Hall. This year the honor of Macebearer was given to Barbara Fuller, who recently retired after working in the university’s business office.

This year’s commencement exercise was the first for Dr. Paul C. Stumb in his new capacity as Cumberland’s 26th president. Dr. Stumb opened the ceremony by welcoming graduates, the parents of graduates, dignitaries and other guests.

During the ceremony, Bob McDonald, chairman of the board of trust, applauded the graduates for their remarkable accomplishment and encouraged them to carry the spirit of Cumberland with them wherever life’s journey takes them.

Nearly 4,500 guests were in attendance for the two-hour ceremony.

Awards and recognitions: 

The President’s Award is presented to the graduate who most nearly embodies the ideals, principles, and spirit of the University. The award was presented to Keaton Gaffney, a science and biochemistry major from Mt. Juliet.

The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards were presented to the student and community members who demonstrate a commitment to service, The student award went to Nick Paden, a mathematics and secondary education major from Hodgenville, KY; and the community member award went to Ed and Susie James, two local residents who are extremely engaged in community service in the Wilson County area.

The President’s Award for Teaching Excellence is presented each year to a faculty member who has made a difference in the lives of our students. This year, the award was given to Dr. William “Russ” Cheatham. Dr. Cheatham is retiring after 21 years of service.

Faculty promotions awarded: Dr. Danny L. Bryan to Associate Professor of Biology, Dr. Kim Y. Finch to Associate Professor of Education, Dr. S. Christopher Fuller to Associate Professor of Math, Dr. Jason S. Grindstaff to Associate Professor of Health and  Human Performance, Dr. Joy D. Kimbrell to Associate Professor of Nursing, Dr. Ronda S. Landers to Associate Professor of Nursing, Dr. Michele P. Paise to Associate Professor of Music.

The Award of Excellence in Humanities, Education, and the Arts was presented to Dr. Stephen T. Murphy of Elgin, Ill. Dr. Murphy received his Bachelor of Arts in Social Science and his Bachelor of Science in Psychology in 1999.

The Award of Excellence in Nursing and Health Professions was presented to Marcy Little of Cookeville, Tenn. Little is a 2007 graduate with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

The  Award of Excellence is in Science, Technology, and Business was presented to Terry L. Thompson of Atlanta, Ga. Mr. Thompson earned his Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting in 1993.

The Rising Phoenix Award recognizes alumni who are 35 years of age or younger and display outstanding leadership qualities. This year the award was presented to Robert J. Carter of Fayetteville, Tenn. Mr. Carter is a 2003 graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in History.

The Distinguished Alumni Award, which is the highest honor bestowed by the Cumberland University Alumni Association, salutes the achievements of outstanding alumni whose personal lives, professional achievements, and community service exemplify the objectives of our alma mater, was presented to Larry Gibbs Cox. Cox is from Knoxville, Tenn., and earned an Associate in Arts in 1963.

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