The Phoenix on Fire


An international conference. Renowned scholar athletes. Top-tier Education graduates. These were but a few of the distinctions by which Cumberland University measured its success—and its rising profile—in the past year. On-ground and online, Memorial Hall has rarely projected a larger presence than it does today, and for good reason. With a growing academic and athletic reputation both regionally and nationwide, Cumberland University is on fire.

IMG_5383“We’re no longer Middle Tennessee’s best-kept secret,” said Dr. Harvill Eaton, University President. “Today, Cumberland University has an ever-growing visibility. Every day, more and more people are discovering that Cumberland offers a cutting-edge, career-focused education that is ahead of the curve in value and affordability.”

Cumberland is highlighting that educational mission with a growing list of achievements. In 2012-13, Cumberland has renewed its commitment to providing students with a responsive education, electing four new Board of Trust members representing leaders in energy, healthcare, public service, and technology. Aiming to exceed the standards of its peer institutions, Cumberland is earning the notice of employers and academics.

“We are constantly benchmarking ourselves against national and global standards,” said Phillip Carter, Cumberland’s Executive Director of Communications. “Our profile is rising because we’re doing the right things now to allow ourselves to become more and more relevant.”


Cumberland demonstrated that drive when it hosted the Global South Summit. Held in Nashville, Tennessee, on November 13-14, 2012, the summit was a C-level leadership conference organized by the University’s Cumberland Center. Bringing together thought leaders from across the globe, the inaugural event aimed to discover ways to leverage technology and innovation into a global abundance in food and healthcare.

_MG_5830“The summit proved that Cumberland University has the ability to create a global stage and bring issues to a worldwide platform where we can discuss, analyze, and create solutions,” said Carter.

Featuring such key thinkers as best-selling author and New York Times writer Thomas Friedman and groundbreaking geneticist and National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis S. Collins, the summit brought Cumberland an unprecedented level of national and international exposure.

Cumberland is also building its presence on a regional level through its Macon County site. Located in Lafayette, Tennessee, the facility offers two dual enrollment courses and 10 certification programs. Working with the Macon County public, the University is providing learning opportunities for the entire community, from high school students to senior citizens.

“We are very involved in community education initiatives, and our regional awareness and reputation is growing for it,” said Carter.


So too is Cumberland’s athletic reputation on the rise, as the Bulldogs win accolades in multiple fields. In 2013, the University’s scholar athletes swept the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics’ list of 2012 Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes with 16 honorees, the most of any institution. In winning the award—an honor reserved for junior or senior athletes with a 3.5 GPA—the athletes demonstrated Cumberland’s commitment to creating student success on and off the field.

The University has also proven itself to be a powerful presence in baseball and women’s basketball. In January, legendary Head Coach Woody Hunt earned induction into the American Baseball Coaches Association Class of 2013 Hall of Fame. The University’s women’s basketball team rose to even greater heights in 2013 as well, rising to fifth place in the 2012-13 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, the highest position in the program’s history.


Cumberland’s alumni may be the strongest factor in the institution’s growing reputation. Since its inception, the University has produced alumni ready to lead and succeed in every field, and the classes of 2012 was no exception.

In 2012, graduates of the School of Humanities, Education, and the Arts celebrated as the program earned the best job placement and four-year retention rate of any Tennessee teacher preparation program with more than 100 Education graduates, according to a Tennessee Higher Education Commission report. Cumberland’s Education alumni won high marks for retention as well, and the program as a whole held an employment rate in Tennessee’s top four.

“Such an excellent placement and retention rate reflects our dedication to producing highly qualified teacher practitioners who are not just prepared for a job, but thrive in this field,” said Dr. Eric Cummings, Dean of the School of Humanities, Education, and the Arts.

Cumberland graduates are no strangers to national honors and employment as well. In January 2013, alumna Louise Kelton (’99) began her service as the United States Marshal for Tennessee’s Middle District, becoming the first African-American woman in the state and the second in the nation to hold that position. Kelton graduated from Cumberland in 1999 with a Master of Science in Public Service Management.

Employed in fields ranging from healthcare to information technology and by employers ranging from the State of Tennessee to, Inc., Cumberland alumni are regularly recognized for their excellence.

“Our alumni are succeeding or leading in almost every field,” said Jonathon Hawkins, Executive Director of Development & Alumni Relations. “As their achievements grow, so too does the name of Cumberland University.”

That name has rarely been more powerful than it is today. In academics, athletics, and alumni success, Cumberland is winning accolades every day. Continually refining its vision of a relevant, affordable, and career-ready education, Cumberland University is earning a reputation fit for a phoenix.

“The world our students face is evolving, and so too is our University,” said Eaton. “As we expand our vision of a 21st-century education, Cumberland’s reputation will only continue to grow.”