University of the Cumberlands is a private, liberal arts college located in Williamsburg, Kentucky, with an enrollment of approximately 3,200 students. The school, known as Cumberland College until January 7, 2005, is affiliated with the Kentucky Baptist Convention, the Kentucky affiliate of the Southern Baptist Convention.
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. In 1959 Cumberland College began offering bachelor's degrees again, having previously awarded the degree until 1913. Cumberland College changed its name to University of the Cumberlands on January 7, 2005.
Nine 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; and James H. Taylor.
Notable alumni include two governors, five military generals, and five college and university presidents.
University of the Cumberlands's 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. The campus spans approximately 70 acres (280,000 m2) and includes 32 buildings and 2 sports field complexes.
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. Inquiries concerning the accreditation status of the university may be directed to the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or by calling 404-676-4500.
Cumberlands offers approximately 45 major 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.
Cumberlands offers 12 academic national honor societies for students in several majors.
The university offers several Masters degrees in Education (MAEd), Psychology (MAPC), Business Administration (MBA), Physician Assistant Studies (MSPA), and Christian Studies (MACS), as well as an Educational Specialist program and a Doctoral program in Education (Ed.D.).
The Doctor of Education program was set up with two initial tracks. The track for Secondary Education Administration is designed for preparing and educating those in positions as principals and superintendents of local school systems. The Higher Education Administration track is designed for those looking to enter the collegiate world as professors and administrators of institutions of higher education. Both tracks are intended to prepare candidates for academic administration and focus on aspects and issues in education leadership.
In August 2008, the university began offering a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.), Education Specialist (Ed.S.) in education leadership and higher education administration, and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) graduate degree.
In January 2009, the university announced that it had been approved by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) to begin a Master of Arts in Professional Counseling. The degree requires 60 credit hours, completed in a cohort, 8 week, bi-term model. Upon completion of the MAPC and passing of the national exam, the student will be qualified to become a licensed professional counselor (LPC). UC has since announced the program has been divided into two tracks, with one as an advanced, accelerated track for those with clinical psychology experience.
Cumberlands began a Masters degree program in School Counseling in the summer of 2009.
In the spring semester of 2010, University of the Cumberlands began their Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies program with their first cohort of physician assistant students.
In March 2010, UC received accreditation for a Master of Arts in Christian Studies, to be offered within the Department of Religion. The program is 30 credit hours and is offered with three areas of concentration in Biblical Studies, Christian Education and Church Planting. The program will be delivered in an online format and was expected to begin in the fall of 2010.
Cumberlands is planning a Doctor of Physical Therapy program to begin in the very near future.
The Robert L. Palmer Memorial Lecture Series brings a writer of national reputation to the campus annually. The series, established in 1992, has hosted novelists, essayists, and poets including Lee Smith, Jim Wayne Miller, Willie Morris, Scott Sanders, Billy Collins, and Catherine Landis. Additionally, the Thomas S. Staley Distinguished Christian Scholar Lecture Series features religious scholars.
The university has in recent years, through its Forcht Group of Kentucky Center for Excellence in Leadership, brought several notable guests to speak on campus. In the spring of 2006, in a "Moral Leadership" program, Roy Moore, the so-called "Ten Commandments judge" spoke at the school. In March 2007, in a "Patriotic Leadership" program, the university hosted Zell Miller, former governor of Georgia and United States senator. The April 2008 program featured bestselling author Stephen Covey in a "Principle Centered Leadership" program, while the April 2009 program featured Ben Stein in a "21st Century Leadership" program.
On April 6, 2010, University of the Cumberlands was set to have former Bush advisor Karl Rove for the Patriotic Leadership Program. Mike Huckabee was the speaker for the April 2011 program along with singer Lee Greenwood.
The University of the Cumberlands teams are known as the Patriots. The university is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the Mid-South Conference. Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, soccer, swimming, tennis, track & field and wrestling; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, track & field, volleyball and wrestling.
This past year, Cumberlands has added Archery as a varsity sport and they have proven to be highly competitive. The Patriots will add bowling as an official sport for the 2013-14 season.
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 Johnson of Lexington, Kentucky was forced to withdraw from the university on April 8, 2006, after he revealed that he is gay on the social networking site MySpace.com. The sophomore theatre arts major was told by officials that they don't approve of his "gay lifestyle" and, although he was a dean's list student, his grades were all downgraded to "F". 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 alleges was added after Johnson decided to go to school at UC.
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. 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."
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. 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 may still file a grievance with the Department of Education or the Southern Association for Colleges and Schools.
On March 28, 2007, the pro-Gay and Lesbian rights group Soulforce brought its 2007 Equality Ride to Cumberlands' campus. 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."
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.
Two University of the Cumberlands students were arrested 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. According to Williamsburg police chief Denny Shelley, police did not try to harass or discourage the group's members but told them they needed to keep moving so they wouldn't block the sidewalk, which would be a safety issue.
In 2003, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) found that President Taylor coerced Professor Robert Day into resigning because he had opposed Taylor's proposed staff layoffs on an off-campus website. 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."
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. 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.
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." If the University of the Cumberlands applies its current policy of active discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation to its pharmacy school, that school can not be accredited. If unaccredited, graduates of the pharmacy school could find their degrees unrecognized by employers, rendering them useless.
On March 6, 2008 Franklin Circuit Court Special Judge, Roger Crittenden, in response to a lawsuit brought by the Kentucky Fairness Alliance, in part over its objection to the university's decision to expel a gay student in 2006, issued an order that rendered the appropriations made for the pharmacy school an unconstitutional establishment of religion under Sections 2 and 189 of the Kentucky Constitution. In addition, the court ruled that a permanent scholarship program created for the pharmacy school by the 2006-07 Kentucky Budget bill was in violation of Section 189 of the Kentucky Constitution. Governor Steve Beshear, who succeeded Fletcher in 2007, has stated that the state does not plan to appeal this decision.
In 2010, the University of the Cumberlands signed a four-year agreement with Midway College School of Pharmacy which guarantees the admission of five Cumberland pre-pharmacy graduates each year.
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. This action was condemned by Kentucky Equality Federation because the church pastor stated officials told him it was because of their tolerance of homosexuality.