Tag Archives: Samford University

The Great Phoenix Debate

29 Jan

A few years ago, I wrote a couple of posts about Cumberland University, the place where I work and where I have received a couple of degrees. The first post related my opinion that our mascot should be changed from the Bulldog to the Phoenix. The second post explained the importance of the mythical Phoenix in our history.

I must have been clairvoyant because, a few weeks ago, the leadership of Cumberland University decided to emphasize the Phoenix as our mascot and deemphasize the Bulldog. If you read the link to my first post, then you will realize that I have long thought there should be a change. If you read the link to the second post, then you will realize that I have long thought there should be a change because the Phoenix has been the soul of the university since the 1860s. Unfortunately, several people did not agree.Phoenix 2

As word of the decision spread, alumni voiced their frustration on Facebook. Former athletes wrote about how they were Bulldogs and would always be Bulldogs. They disparaged the Phoenix as something to which they had no connection.

People in the community contacted me to ask about the change. They were surprised that the change was made and did not understand why we would go with the Phoenix.

One person who attended school in the 1980s ask me a simple question – what is up with the chicken? Obviously, she did not think much of the decision.

For those who are not happy with the decision to emphasize the Phoenix, there are several points I would like to make.

  1. The Bulldog came from a pet that hung around the law school for a few years. That is the same law school that had to be sold to Samford University several decades ago. In other words, the dog has no connection to the university that remains. Heck, we do not even know where they buried that dog.
  2. On the other hand, the Phoenix has been a symbol of the university for 150 years. When the campus was burned during the Civil War, the university rose from the ashes as the Phoenix rises from the ashes.
  3. Some former athletes may think that Bulldog sounds tougher than Phoenix. However, that is not the case. The Bulldog died. The Phoenix is too tough to kill.
  4. Our athletic teams have had the Phoenix emblem on their uniforms for as long as I can remember. It is on baseball caps and football helmets. In fact, opposing teams often ask why it is displayed that prominently. In other words, the Phoenix as a mascot already exists.
  5. There is nothing wrong with having more than one mascot. Alabama has an elephant as a mascot but is known as the Crimson Tide. Auburn is known as the Tigers and the Plainsmen, and they run around yelling War Eagle. Ole Miss is called the Rebels and have a bear stalking the sidelines. Georgia Tech is called the Yellow Jackets and come unto the field behind a car called the Rambling Wreck.
  6. There are a ton of universities who have the Bulldog as a mascot, and Cumberland University just blends in. Being the Phoenix makes our school unique.
  7. When we all received our diplomas, those diplomas said that we graduated from Cumberland University. They did not say Bulldog University. When the baseball team won its three national championships, the trophies said Cumberland University. They did not say Bulldogs. In other words, the Bulldog mascot should not matter. We are not Bulldogs. We are members of the Cumberland University family.
  8. People should not be concerned if we are the Bulldogs, the Phoenix or the Chickens. They should be proud that we have a bright future, and that future is represented by a mythical creature that is the symbol of survival and rebirth. Cumberland University is a strong institution and its graduates are doing great work throughout the world. I believe that strength and work is best represented by a symbol that is recognized around the world rather than a pet that hung around campus for a few years.

Cumberland’s Grover Cleveland

28 Aug

This week, Cumberland University, my place of employment, announced the appointment of a new president. It was a great day of celebration and hope for a bright future. In my opinion, the search committee and the Board of Trust made an inspired choice to lead our institution.

Last night, I was reading news reports about the announcement and decided to see if our Wikipedia page had been updated. While skimming over the Wiki information, I noticed a discrepancy. When the new president was introduced, we were told that he is the 26th president of Cumberland University. However, Wikipedia listed him as the 27th.

I jumped on Twitter with the question of which is correct and was told that Nathan Green, Jr. served two nonconsecutive terms. In the view of the university, he counts as one president. That is when I mentioned that Grover Cleveland served as president of the United States for two nonconsecutive terms and counts as two presidents.

Apparently, we count presidents differently that United States counts presidents. That is when my colleague chimed in with “Nathan Green, Jr. = Cumberland’s Grover Cleveland.”Nathan Green

We still have not figured out why Cumberland University counts presidents differently than the United States counts presidents, but, since Nathan Green, Jr. caused this mess, I feel the need to tell you more about him.

Green was born into a prominent family on February 19, 1827 and followed his father, who served on the Tennessee Supreme Court, into law. He was one of the founders of the Cumberland School of Law  and taught for over sixty years. This included stints as president from 1873 to 1902 and from 1906 to 1909.

Some people credit Green with ushering the university through the Civil War and Reconstruction, and others blame his adherence to outdated legal training as weakening the law school, which would eventually be sold to Samford University.

Green lived a long life and died on February 17, 1919. His life was interesting and full of achievement but wait until I write about his brother Tom Green. It is a wild and wooly story.