A new logo emblazoned with the Phoenix appeared on the university’s athletics website Monday morning and began changing on social media sites operated by Cumberland athletics teams.
“We are emphasizing the Phoenix and de-emphasizing the Bulldog,” said Cumberland president Paul Stumb. “We’re going to put Phoenix into our nomenclature more and use Bulldogs in our nomenclature less.”
Sports information director Jo Jo Freeman released the new logo in an email to The Democrat, along with an explanation regarding the change.
“For more than 150 years, the Phoenix has personified the spirit of Cumberland University,” the statement said. “In the 1860s, the Civil War came to Cumberland – and with it a fire that destroyed all but two Corinthian columns of its University Hall. Upon one of the remaining columns, a student, Dr. W.E. Ward, wrote the phrase, ‘Resurgam’ or ‘I shall rise again.’
“That phrase would prove prophetic. With that ethos, Cumberland rose from the ashes, adopting the mythical phoenix as its namesake.”
The phoenix was already a much-used symbol by Cumberland University. It appears on the university’s official seal and a version of Cumberland’s athletic logo. It adorns the stained glass of the University’s Baird Chapel, grants its name to the institution’s alumni magazine and serves as the namesake of Cumberland’s annual Phoenix Ball.
“In 2015 as in the 1860s, the Phoenix stands as an instantly recognizable symbol of Cumberland University’s fire-forged excellence,” the statement said. “The Phoenix reflects the grace and dynamism of an institution continually reinventing itself to continue preparing its students to reach the pinnacle of academic and athletic success.
“It is therefore only fitting that Cumberland University formally adopts the Phoenix as its universal symbol. A reaffirmation of the university’s roots, this move allows Cumberland to formally unify its institutional representation under a single icon – one that demonstrates a time-tested commitment to ascendance.”
Cumberland officials said the Bulldog was retired as its athletics mascot.
“Beneath the Phoenix, however, Cumberland University athletics will remain ‘big-time sports at a small school.’ If the sun dawns on the time of the Bulldog, it rises on the Phoenix as the symbol of Cumberland University,” the statement said.
Stumb said it may take six months or 60 months to phase out the Bulldogs nickname, but it would eventually happen.