University of the Cumberlands

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University of the Cumberlands is a private university in Williamsburg, Kentucky. It was founded by Baptist ministers in 1888 as Cumberland College until it changed its name in 2005. The university also changed its mascot to a Patriot at that time. About 13,000 students are enrolled at the university.

University of the Cumberlands
University of the Cumberlands seal.png
Former name
Cumberland College
MottoVita Abundantior
Motto in English
A Life More Abundant
PresidentLarry Cockrum
Location, ,
United States
ColorsRed, White, and Blue             
MascotPete the Patriot


University of the Cumberlands, first called Williamsburg Institute, was founded on January 7, 1889. At the 1887 annual meeting of the Mount Zion Association, representatives from 18 eastern Kentucky Baptist churches discussed plans to provide higher education in the Kentucky mountains. The college was incorporated by the Kentucky state legislature on April 6, 1888. In 1907 the school bought the three buildings of Highland College, and in 1913, Williamsburg Institute's name was changed to Cumberland College. The name reflected the institution's location along the Cumberland River and its proximity to Cumberland Falls and the Cumberland Gap. From its inception, the institution has been affiliated with the Baptist Church, and its mission has been to educate and prepare leaders for service to the greater community. On the basis of being controlled by the Kentucky Baptist Convention and being bound by its policies, the university has requested and received exemptions from Title IX in the areas of "admissions, recruitment, education programs or activities, and employment", allowing it to discriminate in those fields based on its views regarding "marriage, sex outside of marriage, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, and abortion."[3] University of the Cumberlands sought, and received, a dissolution with the Kentucky Baptist Convention during the annual convention on November 12, 2018.[4]

Although founded as a senior college, in 1918 Cumberland College officially became a junior college. The college received its first accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) in 1931. In 1956 the Board of Trustees began bringing the college back to senior college status. The junior year was added in 1959-60 and the senior year in 1960-61. SACS granted initial accreditation to the institution as a senior college in December 1964. Since then, SACS has reaffirmed the college's accreditation in 1974, 1985, 1995, and 2006. It is next scheduled for reaffirmation in 2016.

Cumberland College received authority to award its first graduate degree, the Master of Arts in Education (MAED) on April 6, 1988. Graduate education has since become an integral part of the institution. In 2005, the institution received authorization from SACS to offer the Master of Arts in Teaching degree (MAT). This action was followed in 2006 with permission from the SACS Commission on Colleges to offer both the MAED and MAT degrees fully online. More recently in 2008, the Commission also authorized the granting of the MBA degree, the Ed.S. degree, as well as the institution's first doctoral degree, an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership. Master's programs in Professional Counseling and in Physician Assistant Studies were approved by SACS in 2009, and the Master of Arts in Christian Studies in 2010.

On July 1, 2005, after action by the Board of Trustees, Cumberland College became the University of the Cumberlands. The university is authorized by the Commonwealth of Kentucky to operate as a nonprofit corporation with perpetual duration and is licensed by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) to grant the degrees currently offered through July 2017. The institution is also recognized by the Commission on Colleges of SACS as a Level V institution and thus accredited to offer up to three doctoral programs. Currently it offers three doctoral degrees: Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, Ed.D. in Counselor Education, and Ph.D. in Psychology. Originally as Williamsburg Institution, then as Cumberland College, and now as University of the Cumberlands, the institution continues to provide quality education in a Christian environment, producing graduates who will serve and become leaders in their communities.

Ten presidents have led the college including William James Johnson; E. E. Wood; John Newton Prestridge; Gorman Jones, acting president; A. R. Evans, acting president; Charles William Elsey; James Lloyd Creech; J. M. Boswell; James H. Taylor and Larry L. Cockrum.

On October 3, 2014, university President Dr. James Taylor announced that then-Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Larry Cockrum would take over day-to-day operations of the university after the board of trustees meeting on October 15, 2014. Taylor also announced his retirement as president effective October 15, 2015 with the recommendation that Cockrum be named university president effective October 16, 2015. On that date, Taylor would assume the honorary title of university chancellor.[5] The board of trustees officially approved the succession plan on October 15, 2014 giving Cockrum a seven-year contract and the title of Chief Executive Officer & President-Elect.[6] The board of trustees, in a unanimous vote, officially named Cockrum university president on October 15, 2015.[7]

Notable alumni include two governors, five military generals, and five college and university presidents.


University of the Cumberlands marker off of Main Street, in Williamsburg, Kentucky

University of the Cumberlands' campus is in the southeastern part of Kentucky, just off Interstate 75, 190 miles (310 km) south of Cincinnati, Ohio, and 70 miles (110 km) north of Knoxville, Tennessee.

Notable buildingsEdit

  • Roburn Hall: The first building on the campus, Roburn Hall has been used as a classroom building and a women's and men's residence hall. It is now a women's residence hall.
  • Gillespie Hall: Originally called Johnson Hall, the women's residence was the second building built by Williamsburg Institute.
  • Mahan Hall: Built in 1907 as Felix Hall, Mahan was the first men's residence.
  • Clyde V. and Patricia Bennett Building: Formerly known as the Gray Brick Building, the Bennett Building was built in 1906 by Highland College. Highland and Cumberland merged in 1907.
  • Ruby Gatliff Archer President's Home: Built in 1905 as a replica of the "Kentucky Home" at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis. It is the residence of the president of the university.
  • Edward L. Hutton School of Business: Built in 2004 as a replica of Independence Hall.
  • Cumberland Inn and Conference Center: Hotel and conference center run by the school. Primarily employs UC students.
    • Patriot Steakhouse, formerly the Athenaeum Restaurant: Highly rated restaurant inside the Cumberland Inn. Reviewed in Eating Your Way Across Kentucky: 101 Must Places To Eat (2006).
    • The Cumberland Inn Museum is operated by the school, located in the Cumberland Inn. It includes the Henkelmann Life Science Collection, the Carl Williams Cross Museum (one of the world's largest collections of crosses) and the University of the Cumberlands Archives.
  • Ward and Regina Correll Science Complex: In May 2007, $1 million expansion of the Science Complex was started. The new addition is a replica of Thomas Jefferson's Monticello mansion. Classes began in the Correll Science Complex in January 2009.[8]
  • Lenora Fuson Harth Hall: New women's residence in the former location of Boswell Park, adjacent to Gillespie Hall. Construction began in August 2007. The hall opened in spring 2009.[9]

Plans are also underway for an addition to the Boswell Campus Center and remodeling the current structure. These plans include a student recreation center complete with a rock wall, along with adding a thatched roof in order to blend in with the other buildings on campus. Phase 1 began in May, 2010.


The university is divided into four colleges: Cumberland College (the university's undergraduate school), the Hutton School of Business/Management, the Hutton Center for Leadership Studies, and the Graduate/Professional Education program.

University of the Cumberlands is accredited by the Commission of Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award baccalaureate, master's, and doctoral degrees.

Undergraduate programsEdit

Cumberlands offers approximately 45 major undergraduate programs of study, as well as a variety of minor programs. UC recently began offering majors in Journalism and Public Relations, Criminal Justice, and Spanish.[10]

Cumberlands offers 12 academic national honor societies for students in several majors.[11]

Graduate programsEdit

The university offers several master's degrees, including programs in Education (MAEd), Psychology (MAPC), Business Administration (MBA), Physician Assistant Studies (MSPA), and Christian Studies (MACS), as well as an Educational Specialist program. It also offers several PhD programs,as well as an EdD program.[12]

Northern Kentucky CampusEdit

In addition to the main campus in Williamsburg, UC operates a Northern Kentucky facility in Florence, Kentucky, just south of Cincinnati, Ohio. The location was originally secured to offer more clinical rotations in mental healthcare for doctoral psychology students. This satellite campus currently houses the School of Lifelong Learning and the Ph.D. Program in Clinical Psychology. The university has also indicated that this campus may be the eventual home of the Master's program in Physician Assistant Studies.[13]


The University of the Cumberlands (UC) teams are known as the Patriots, after switching from their original mascot the Indians. The university is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the Mid-South Conference.

Men's sportsEdit

Archery, baseball, basketball, bowling, cross country, football, golf, lacrosse, soccer, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field, and wrestling.

Women's sportsEdit

Archery, basketball, bowling, cross country, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field, volleyball, and wrestling.

COED sportsEdit

Cheerleading, dance.[14]

Men's lacrosseEdit

In 2016, the Patriots started their inaugural lacrosse season as members of the NAIA. Also, the start of the 2016 season will be the first year NAIA sponsors lacrosse.

Women's lacrosseEdit

2016 starts of the Patriots' women's lacrosse team. The head coach is Kelly Buikus, who originates from West Hartford, Connecticut. Buikus most recently started the lacrosse program at Ave Maria University. She coached six players to the all conference team in the south region as well as two honorable mention all Americans in 2015. A regular on the club coaching scene, her experience in assessing talent and growing players to their full potential will see the lacrosse program flourish quickly. Sharon Acoff from nearby Tennessee Wesleyan will assist Buikus in their inaugural campaign.[15]

The women's inaugural season kicked off at home on February 16, 2016, against Montreat College.[16] The team has 15 games lined up.

Student lifeEdit

Approximately 65% of its 1,864 undergraduate students come from Kentucky, but members of its spring 2014 entering class also hailed from more than 37 states and 15 countries. The university's faculty and curricula are equally broad-based. The university offers a range of undergraduate and graduate programs, including education, professional counseling, business, physician assistant studies, and Christian studies.

The university also has a low-power radio station, WCCR-LP, a campus newspaper, The Patriot, and a local cable television station, UCTV channel 19.

In addition to the physical activities, the university has a forensics (debate) team and an academic team. The debate team is nationally known having won the Christian National Debate competition (Novice Division).

For students interested in music, the university has several vocal and instrumental ensembles.

UC offers a degree in theatre and communication arts. The university has typically two productions a year, one play (commonly in the spring, though reversed for the 2008 semesters) and one musical (currently in the spring, previously in the fall). The Kohn Theatre is not restricted to the theatre department and is used by other theatrical groups in the area and by the school. UC has two professors of theatre: technical director Carl Walling (as of fall 2010) and stage director Dr. Kim Miller (as of fall 2008).

The university has other extracurricular student activities, including Campus Activity Board (CAB), chapters of College Republicans and College Democrats, Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Residence Hall Councils, Student Government Association, Baptist Campus Ministries, and many other clubs and organizations.

UC has 12 chapters of national honor societies in fields such as Biology (Beta Beta Beta), First Year Students (Alpha Lambda Delta) Theology and Religion (Theta Alpha Kappa), Business (Sigma Beta Delta and Phi Beta Lambda), and other academic fields.

University of the Cumberlands provides opportunities for campus ministry through Baptist Campus Ministries (BCM), Appalachian Ministries, Mountain Outreach, and Campus Family and Life groups.

The university commits itself to and recognizes the value of community service through its Hutton Center for Leadership Studies. 100% of undergraduate students participate in community service before they graduate, developing a 40-hour community service project through their "Lead 101" class. UC provides recognition for those students willing to go the extra mile in service. Those who accumulate 200 or more hours of community service during their time at UC are designated "Hutton Scholars" and presented with certificates. Such students are recognized at their commencement ceremonies and are provided the privilege of requesting a "leadership transcript" from the university when applying for career positions and graduate schools. Many campus organizations provide opportunities for community service, including Student Government Association, the Academic Resource Center (ARC), Campus Activity Board, The Patriot Campus newspaper, and Resident Assistant positions.

Since the college is in Williamsburg, it is 18 miles (29 km) away Cumberland Falls State Resort Park in the Daniel Boone National Forest. The park is the home of Cumberland Falls, sometimes called the Little Niagara, the Niagara of the South or the Great Falls and is the only venue in the Western Hemisphere where a moonbow or lunar rainbow is regularly visible on a clear night with a full moon. Because of how close the falls are, many students go there to hike in the surrounding area and to see the moonbow.


Jason JohnsonEdit

Jason Johnson of Lexington, Kentucky was forced to withdraw from the university on April 8, 2006, after mentioning that he is gay on the social networking site Then-university president Dr. James H. Taylor said in a written statement, "At University of the Cumberlands, we hold students to a higher standard than does society in general...University of the Cumberlands isn't for everyone. We tell prospective students about our high standards before they come." The student handbook, as revised in 2005, states that students can be removed from campus for participating in pre-marital sex or promoting homosexuality — a policy which Johnson's attorney alleged was added after Johnson decided to go to school at UC.[17]

The legality of such a policy is doubtful as the university receives funds from the Kentucky state government. According to the Supreme Court ruling in Bob Jones University v. United States, any university receiving public monies may not discriminate, so any court challenge will likely center on this.[18] In Judge Crittenden's decision denying public funding to UC's pharmacy school, he declined to decide this question, stating that the proposed spending violated portions of the Kentucky Constitution that guarantee religious freedom and that public money for education should not be spent on any "church, sectarian or denominational school."[19]

On April 19, 2006, Johnson's attorney and the university reached a settlement allowing Johnson to complete his coursework for the semester and restoring his previous grades rather than downgrading them to failing. The university agreed to not report to other universities that Johnson was expelled. In addition, Johnson waived his right to sue the university, although he retained his right to file a grievance with the Department of Education or the Southern Association for Colleges and Schools.[20]


On March 28, 2007, the pro-Gay and Lesbian rights group Soulforce brought its 2007 Equality Ride to Cumberlands' campus.[21] According to the group's website, "through dialogue with administrators, faculty and students, the young activists of the 2007 Equality Ride will make clear the harmful effects of the false notion that homosexuality is a 'sickness and a sin.' To make public their case for equality, the young activists on the Equality Ride will hold vigils, Bible studies, class discussions, community forums, and press conferences."[22]

According to the university, an offer was extended to the group to be located in the middle level of the Boswell Campus Center, but Soulforce rejected those terms. However, according to Soulforce, an offer from the university was quickly withdrawn because of a miscommunication and the university later refused to agree to terms in writing.[23]

Two University of the Cumberlands students were arrested by Williamsburg police on a charge of failure to disperse, along with a member of the Soulforce group, for trespassing and failure to disperse when they stopped on the sidewalk of Main Street, which runs through the campus.[24]

Robert DayEdit

In 2003, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) censured the university, finding that President Taylor coerced Professor Robert Day into resigning because he had opposed Taylor's proposed staff layoffs on an off-campus website.[25][26] The AAUP concluded that "The policies of Cumberland College, including the grievance procedure, do not provide for faculty hearings of any kind. College policies and practices preclude any effective faculty role in academic governance and contribute to an atmosphere that stifles the freedom of faculty to question and criticize administrative decisions and actions." The AAUP noted that current and former faculty members "do not feel free to address topics of college concern in any forum" and "described a climate of fear about what faculty members may say and do, a fear based on what they know or have been told has happened to others." Those interviewed "expressed a particular fear that criticizing the administration and its operation of the college could place a faculty member's appointment in jeopardy."[27]

Pharmacy schoolEdit

The Kentucky state budget, passed by the 2006 Kentucky legislature, includes $10 million of state debt to construct a pharmacy building on the school's Whitley County campus. Additionally, $1 million for scholarships for the pharmacy program are included. The $10 million building is to be funded out of a $100 million pool of money titled the "infrastructure for economic development fund for coal-producing counties." Money to repay the bond issuance would come from coal severance taxes. The Kentucky Fairness Alliance asked Governor Ernie Fletcher to veto the $11 million that state lawmakers approved for a planned pharmacy school.[28] A gay Kentucky State Senator, Ernesto Scorsone, has indicated that he would oppose spending the funds already allocated for a new pharmacy school for the university based on the Johnson situation, stating "We should not be budgeting bigotry." "If the University of the Cumberlands does not change its policies and practices, we will have a state benefit that is only available to heterosexuals," Scorsone said.[29] An additional complication is that the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education, the accrediting agency for all American pharmacy schools, explicitly prohibits discrimination against gays. Its guideline states that approved schools must have a policy on student affairs, including admissions and progression, that assures non-discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender, lifestyle, national origin, or disability. As of July 1, 2007, this will be revised to include the phrase "sexual orientation."

Broadway Baptist Church youth groupEdit

In June, 2009, the University of the Cumberlands rescinded its invitation to a youth group from Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, to help build homes for the poor, stating they did so because the church had been removed from the Southern Baptist Convention.[30][31] This action was condemned by Kentucky Equality Federation because the church pastor stated officials told him it was because of their tolerance of homosexuality.[32]

Notable alumniEdit


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  3. ^ Tate, Curtis (29 April 2016), Kentucky colleges seek exemption from feds on transgender bias, Lexington, Kentucky: Lexington Herald Leader, retrieved 10 May 2016
  4. ^ "University of the Cumberlands leaves Kentucky Baptist Convention | Lexington Herald Leader". kentucky. Retrieved 2019-04-17.
  5. ^ "University of the Cumberlands President Jim Taylor to assume new role as Chancellor". Archived from the original on 2014-11-01. Retrieved 2014-11-01.
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  13. ^ Cumberlands, University of the. "University of the Cumberlands adds branch in northern Kentucky - University of the Cumberlands". Archived from the original on 2018-02-27. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
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  27. ^ AAUP (April 2005). "Report: Academic Freedom and Tenure: University of the Cumberlands" (PDF). Academe. Retrieved 9 January 2015.
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  32. ^ Sulfridge, Adam (9 July 2009). "UC officials mum about turning choir away". Retrieved 9 January 2015.
  33. ^ "Cat Zingano UFC Bio". Retrieved 2014-01-01.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 36°44′14″N 84°09′44″W / 36.73713°N 84.16231°W / 36.73713; -84.16231