Published on April 17, 2012 by Mary Wimberley  

Cumberland School of Law alumni from seven decades, including the six that the school has been a part of Samford University, gathered for reunions and activities April 14. 

Law graduates and family members enjoyed campus tours, fun activities for children, and reunions with former classmates, faculty and staff.  Martha F. and Albert P. Brewer Plaza outside the law building was filled with congenial groups that lingered over a gourmet picnic lunch.

The special 50th anniversary reunion weekend celebrated Cumberland's move from Lebanon, Tenn., where it was founded in 1847, to Alabama to become part of Samford in 1961.

John Dugger, a member of the Class of 1987, caught up with his former contracts professor, Brad Bishop.  "I still remember how hard that contracts course was, but professor Bishop was a great teacher," said Dugger, now a criminal court judge in east Tennessee.  "He taught me well."

Five members of the Class of 1962 ---Jack Bomar, Jerry Cruse, Stanley Kupiszewski, Jr., Saul Perdomo and Roger Smith--attended a golden anniversary breakfast with other  graduates from 1971 and earlier, including 1950 graduate Sam Kennedy of Columbia, Tenn.

The Class of 1962, the first to graduate after Cumberland became part of Samford, had begun studies in Lebanon before transferring to the new location for a final year of law school.

Kupiszewski remembers the transition well, partly because he helped move the law school's library books from Tennessee to Alabama.  "We put the books in crates in Lebanon, and unloaded them here," he said, referring to the top floor of the Samford library, where law classes were held before Memory Leake Robinson Hall was built to house the law school.

The longtime resident of Tallahassee, Fla., still practices part time after a 50-year career that included service as general counsel for the Florida Department of Education. A married Korean War veteran when he studied law, he was chosen to represent Cumberland at an American Law Students Association meeting.  

The weekend turned into a family reunion for Kupiszewski and his wife, Phyllis, and their son, 1990 Cumberland graduate Judge Steve Kupiszewski.

The younger Kupiszewski made a surprise trip from his home in Phoenix, Ariz., where he is a superior court commissioner, to join his parents for the weekend. The visit was one of his few times back to campus since he graduated, he said, and he enjoyed identifying classmates on a composite photo.

Another child of a Cumberland graduate, six-year-old Carly Altom, preferred chasing butterflies on Brewer Plaza and making friends with a tyke who also was attending with her Cumberland parents.

A highlight for Carly was donning a judge's robe and posing for a photo behind the bench in the moot courtroom. "I put on a wig, too," said Carly, daughter of Kent Altom who graduated from Samford in 1992 and Cumberland in 2002, and Charla Nichols Altom, who holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Samford. Kent is a managing partner in a Georgia law firm.

Alumni could meet Samford president Dr. Andrew Westmoreland and Cumberland National Alumni Association president Julian Mann III, Class of 1974, and get books autographed by professors Howard P. Walthall and David J. Langum, who wrote From Maverick to Mainstream, Cumberland School of Law 1847-1997.

A special ceremony honored two outstanding alumni, a longtime administrator and faculty members; and celebrated the naming of the Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton Advanced Advocacy Courtroom.

The new name for the courtroom, with its state-of the-art technology, recognizes the strong ties between the law school and the Birmingham law firm, said Cumberland dean John L. Carroll.

Carroll presented awards to individuals for outstanding achievement in a variety of alumni, administration and teaching capacities.

Honorees included the late Jere F. White, a 1980 graduate, recognized posthumously as Distinguished Alumnus of the Year; Latanishia D. Watters, a  2001 graduate, Young Alumna of the Year; and James N. Lewis, Jr., longtime Cumberland vice dean of development and administration, Friend of the Law School.

Faculty awards for outstanding service went to Henry "Corky" Strickland, William G. Ross, Herman "Rusty" Johnson, Woodrow Hartzog and David M. Smolin.


Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.