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History & Heritage

In 1888, a group of Baptist Ministers founded a small college in Kentucky known as the Williamsburg Institute, for the purpose of preparing young adults for lives as servant leaders. In 1913, following the acquisition of Highland College, Cumberland College was born.  The school became University of the Cumberlands in 2005.

Undaunted by wars, economic depressions, social unrest and natural disasters, University of the Cumberlands has continuously served students primarily, but not exclusively, from the beautiful Appalachian mountain regions of Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio and Alabama. Now, thanks to the welcome addition of online learning, the University’s doors are open to students from all over the world.

The school’s vision for providing higher education in an underserved area caught the eye of men like John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie, both of whom supported the institution. Cumberlands has produced two governors, five military generals, an admiral, five college and university presidents, a Congressman, ministers, missionaries, legislators, judges and more.

Ten presidents have served Cumberlands, including William James Johnson, E. E. Wood, John Newton Prestridge, Gorman Jones, A. R. Evans, Charles William Elsey, James Lloyd Creech, J. M. Boswell, James H. Taylor and Larry L. Cockrum, current President.