By Diana Haines 

Cumberland University has made Lebanon a college town since 1842, and has been at its current site since the 1890’s. The university has now set its sights on something bigger, a bigger footprint if you will. Instead of Lebanon, the college town, Wilson County is about to become the college county.

In January of 2010, Cumberland University will open the Mt. Juliet Professional Development Center. According to Harvill Eaton, president of the university, “The mission of the Mt. Juliet Center will be to serve the working adult. This is the first program of its type in the Central South as it permits a qualified person to get a nursing degree in less than two years through studies in the evening and on weekends.”

Adults that have a two or four year degree will be able to pick up a degree in nursing in two years and with the health care industry clamoring for registered nurses, the job opportunities are excellent for degreed professionals.

“The test of worth of any university is the extent to which they are preparing students for jobs,” Eaton says. The nursing school at Cumberland already has an outstanding success rate in preparing its students for the work force and consistently graduates nurses with test scores that are second or third in the state. That’s quite an impressive feat for a program not tied directly to a medical school and is a testament to the quality of education provided here in Wilson County. Eaton goes on to say,

“Nursing is one of those degrees that you can’t just get online. The very important clinical experience that nurses receive that take part in our program occurs at working hospitals and other health-care delivery sites across Middle Tennessee.” Additionally, the Mt. Juliet satellite will be offering post nursing degree courses as well as professional development courses in clinical trial management, medical coding and medical informatics. Clinical trial management is a burgeoning field. Many pharmaceutical companies enlist physicians to help test their products in clinical trials. These clinical trials, however, are wrought with quality standards and rigorous hurdles for qualification, giving RN’s with a certifi cation in this area a leg up on employment opportunities.

With the world of medicine rapidly transitioning to a paperless system, medical coding (the knowledge of correctly coding procedures for payment) and medical informatics (the study of managing medical records) are highly demanded and marketable certifications.

Dr. Eaton says, “Cumberland is about preparing people for careers whether it is the 18 to 22 year old working for a baccalaureate on our campus in Lebanon, or the more experienced student wanting to expand their possibilities. It is a commitment issue for our university to offer all that we can in providing a way for professionals to transition to a new field or stay abreast of developments in their own field. At Cumberland University, this is just part of what we have a responsibility to do.”

In addition to the academics offered in the health care industry, the Mt. Juliet campus plans to offer technology and engineering courses, both introductory and advanced, on use of the geographical information systems (GIS), computer aided design and Industrial Quality management.

If you’re not looking for a nursing degree or a degree at all, Cumberland still has a lot to offer in the coming year. They have course work planned in theatre and film, photography and art. There will also be an upcoming series of courses tailored to learning the actual history of our area of the country. This is not the history based on folklore, although that history is fun to know, but rather history taught by scholars and historians. Truth is almost always stranger than fiction and this series of coursework promises to be fascinating for all history buffs, young and old.

Middle Tennessee, with all of its rich history, promises a future of constant change and growth. Cumberland University is positioning itself to meet the growing demands of a diverse marketplace.

To learn more about Cumberland University, visit

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