Cumberland University Holds 182nd Commencement Weekend with Keynote Speaker Donald Graham

Donald Graham, former publisher of The Washington Post, told Cumberland University graduates that they should “think for themselves” when considering issues impacting current events.

Speaking at University Commencement exercises in Lebanon on Saturday, Graham urged the graduating class of over 700 students, one of the largest in Cumberland’s 183 year history, to not judge candidates running for political office by their party affiliation but rather by what a candidate’s record may be or how a candidate may best align with their own personal values.

“Be independent in your thinking,” Graham said, noting that he had lived during a period dating back to the presidency of Harry S. Truman and that he’d never seen a president who “was always right” on every issue.

He explained that just because a candidate may belong to a particular political party, that doesn’t necessarily mean he or she is the right choice or the right candidate for the office they are seeking.

Graham, a Vietnam army veteran and former Washington, D.C. city police patrolman, was publisher of The Post for 20 years. The newspaper was acquired out of bankruptcy by his grandfather in 1933. The Post was published by the Graham family until it was sold in 2013 to Jeff Bezos. Graham is now the Chairman of the Graham Holding Company. 

Mr. Graham co-founded and served as chairman of the District of Columbia College Access Program, which has doubled the number of DC public high school students going to college.  Upon learning of the plight of undocumented students with no access to college, Graham co-founded TheDream.US, a national scholarship fund for Dreamers. 

Graham reminded the undergraduate class of 2024 to remember that they are the “inheritors of this country.” Encouraging them with the knowledge that they will surely make a difference. 

Alumni Coordinator Caroline Haynes and Cumberland University President Dr. Paul C. Stumb also recognized graduates and alumni for their community leadership, civic engagement, academic achievement, and commitment to Cumberland values during the awards portion of the Commencement Ceremony. 

As students walked across the stage during Friday and Saturday ceremonies, they were asked to give back to CU through the university’s coin tradition, which Wilson Bank and Trust and CedarStone Bank sponsor. By participating, graduates take their first step toward philanthropic giving to Cumberland University by supporting the Pay It Forward Scholarship, designed to support future Cumberland students’ academic careers.

Prior to Saturday’s Ceremony, Cumberland University’s Jeanette C. Rudy School of Nursing and Health Professions hosted its Nursing Pinning Ceremony on Thursday. 36 Nursing students received their pins and were inducted into the nursing profession. And, on Friday night, in a packed Dallas Floyd Phoenix Arena, 126 Masters students were hooded.

To learn more about staying connected with Cumberland, visit

News / Graduate, institutional, Press, Undergraduate / Cumberland University Holds 182nd Commencement Weekend with Keynote Speaker Donald Graham