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Business acumen aids new CU president

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Stumb walks the game ball to the officials before tossing the coin at his first Cumberland football game as president. STEVE WAMPLER / The Wilson Post
Stumb walks the game ball to the officials before tossing the coin at his first Cumberland football game as president. STEVE WAMPLER / The Wilson Post
New Cumberland University President Paul Stumb loves to tell CU's history as he grins in front of an oil portrait of 1926-41 President Ernest Stockton which hangs above CU alumnus Cordell Hull's rolltop desk in Stumb's office. JOHN BUTWELL / The Wilson Post
New students have to be recruited in the fall, emphasizes Dr. Paul Stumb, a man who gestures with his hands a lot as he talks. "We can't just go get more now," he says. "We have to work in advance." JOHN BUTWELL / The Wilson Post
The challenges of his new job are manifold but exciting, Dr. Paul Stumb says with an ever-ready grin. One of them, he adds, is finding donors and funding sources for a badly-needed new Science Building. JOHN BUTWELL / The Wilson Post
Dr. Paul Stumb knows he has a lot of history behind him as he flashes yet another grin seated in his office at the rolltop desk that belonged to 1891 CU alumnus and 1945 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Cordell Hull, FDR's secretary of state. JOHN BUTWELL / The Wilson Post
Tennessee Promise funding for the first two years of college is a great opportunity for students to begin attending CU for four years, Dr. Paul Stumb says. "If I were the parent, I would want my child to come to a four-year school," he comments. "Kids who are considering a junior college need to come to CU." JOHN BUTWELL / The Wilson Post

But Dr. Stumb loves teaching, too - and Lebanon living

The new president of Cumberland University, Dr. Paul Stumb, says the one thing he misses is teaching classes. But give him a little time, and he intends to be back in the classroom for a course every semester or two.

Stumb says the best thing about living in Lebanon is that it still feels like a small town.

"I had lunch at Michael's the other day," he says. "And I knew everybody in there."

Stumb came to Lebanon in 2001 as a business executive for American Corrugated Paper. Soon he started teaching business classes as an adjunct professor at CU.

When the post as dean of Cumberland's Labry School of Business came open, President Harvill Eaton offered it to Stumb, who by then was running American Corrugated and teaching part-time in the CU business department.

Search led to Stumb

When Eaton retired, the search for a new president led to Stumb. "I think the skills I developed as a business person will serve the college well," he says. "Running a college is running a business. We're chartered as a non-profit, but we still have to pay attention to budget, finance, human resources and payroll, all the things businesses do."

One of the businesslike challenges is to make the college grow, which is a challenge to increase revenues, since tuition represents a large portion of the college's income.

Stumb says growing the enrollment is, in fact, his biggest challenge.

"We have 1,551 students this fall, which is our largest ever," he says. "But 68 of those students are Tennessee Promise students. We give them scholarships, because we want them."

He sees Tennessee Promise as a great opportunity - and the fact that CU accepts those students as a good opportunity for them.

'I'd send mine to CU'

"If I were the parent, I would want my child to come to a four-year school," he says. "Kids who are considering a junior college need to come to CU."

The university's record enrollment number also includes 160 dual enrollment, high school/college students - 143 at Wilson Central and another 17 between McClain Academy and home-schooled students.

"Without those students, our enrollment is a little lower," Stumb notes.

However, he adds that since the main time of entry for students is the fall semester, plans to increase the numbers have to be aimed at next fall.

"We can't just go get more now," he says. "We have to work in advance."

'Already knows the people'

Stumb also thinks the fact that he has already been at CU for 10 years has helped him in his new job, since he already knows all the people - "That's been a big help, but I still have a lot to learn."

But one thing he's sure about is the need for new science labs and a new building at CU for that department.

"Almost all of our students go through those labs," Stumb points out. "Many of them come from high schools with more modern, better-equipped labs. We need a new Science Building."

Being dean of the Labry School also meant Stumb became very involved with the community - including representing the college at Lebanon Wilson County Chamber of Commerce meetings.

'Connections help'

"CU has always been a big supporter of the Chamber," Stumb says. "It's one of the founding members. I love working with the Chamber."

Another group he's proud to belong to is the Coffeehouse Club. It's a group of 32 professional men who meet eight times a year in Nashville, and it includes such members as Nashville Congressman Jim Cooper. Each member is responsible for presenting a program to the group once every four years.

The Tennessee Supreme Court recently holding a real court session at Cumberland was a valuable tool for promoting the university as well, Stumb points out. And he emphasizes the prestige for CU of being able to claim 14 state Supreme Court justices and two US Supreme Court justices as alumni.

"We're renaming two residence halls for them," Stumb says. "They were Horace Harmon Lurton and Howell Edmunds Jackson." Both of the federal justices served in the 1890s.

Although CU no longer has a law school as it did back then, Stumb says the university still offers a variety of majors and some graduate programs.

'Loves Bulldog history'

Stumb also points out that sports are very important at CU. "People come from all over to play baseball for Woody Hunt. He's iconic."

He may be new to the job as Cumberland's president, but Stumb knows his university history - especially all the great old stories about the CU Bulldogs.

Almost 100 years ago, CU football set another kind of record, Stumb loves to tell. It all started when Georgia Tech lost to CU 22-0 in baseball.

Their coach, John Heisman - for whom football's Heisman Trophy is named - challenged the Bulldogs to a football game that October, and the CU coach agreed.

"Then World War I broke out, and all the able-bodied young men volunteered to fight for their country," Stumb explains. The CU coach tried to cancel, but Heisman would not agree.

'No first downs'

So CU recruited anybody they could, including boys who were underage and students who were physically not fit enough for the Army, and played the game in Atlanta.

Of course, they lost. Georgia Tech won by the widest margin ever recorded in football history, 222-0. "There were actually no first downs in the entire game," Stumb says. "Because every time Georgia Tech got the ball, they immediately made a touchdown."

Somewhere in his busy life, Stumb also finds time for family. His wife Christy is a physician with a practice in Carthage, and he says he has two children and "two bonus children."

The "bonus" children, two sons, also bring added bonuses to the family Christopher Giesenhoffer and his wife Elizabeth have a daughter Kylie Marie, 4, and Trey Giesenhoffer and his wife Erin have a daughter Ava Grace, 10 months old.

Stumb's daughter Maryanne teaches at St. Bernard Academy in Nashville. His son Paul Jr., who is no longer living, was an Eagle Scout.

And Stumb himself? Well, you might say he's the top 'Dog now - and loving it.

Writer Connie Esh may be contacted at

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