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Cumberlands Dedicates Oldest Building to One of its Founders


Dr. William Moss addresses faculty and students during Convocation.

WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. – University of the Cumberlands has announced that it has renamed its first building to honor the memory of Dr. E.S. Moss, a founder of Williamsburg Institute (now University of the Cumberlands). The building, which has served as a classroom and administrative building, is now a men’s residence hall. It has been called the Institute, and later, the Old Recitation Building, but most Cumberlands graduates and students know it as Roburn Hall. It is the building that first opened its doors to students on January 7, 1889, when students were entering as the builders swept the last debris out the back. Moss was one of those who not only raised funds for the school, but also, literally, built it.

Traditionally, the first convocation of the spring semester honors the school’s founders and also commemorates the life & work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This year’s Founders Day/King Convocation also included the dedication of the “new” Moss Hall. Following a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. featuring video clips of King’s “I Have a Dream,” speech, Dr. James Taylor led a tribute to the founders of what is now University of the Cumberlands. He spoke of Dr. E.S. Moss, stating, “Moss helped establish Williamsburg Institute. The faith of the founding fathers is reflected in the success and ethic of students who have attended this University.” Taylor introduced Dr. William E. Moss, M.D. and Mrs. Marcia Pennington, of Louisville, the great-grandson and great-granddaughter of Dr. E.S. Moss, who then each recounted stories of “Grandfather.”

Moss addressed students and faculty stating, “We cannot express our appreciation for this honor bestowed upon Dr. E.S. Moss,” Speaking of his childhood spent in and around the campus, Moss compared it to his return to the University, “It is all about perspective. Through life our perspective changes, it evolves. Cumberland College changed so much. It grew extensively to become University of the Cumberlands.”

Also in attendance was Dr. James P. Moss, another great grandson, as well as several other descendants of the first Dr. Moss, representing several generations. Following convocation, the family and special guests traveled to Moss Hall, where the dedication concluded with a brief service, including the Chorale’s rendition of “Holy Ground” and a group reading of the litany of dedication.

Dr. E.S. Moss was a founder and first chairman of the Board of Trustees of Williamsburg Institute, founded in 1889. He was one of the first six trustees of the Institute first appointed by the Mount Zion Baptist Association on December 31, 1887, and served as chairman for fifteen years, although his interest in the College continued until his death in 1943.

Moss lived in Pineville and Tazewell, Tennessee, but came to Williamsburg in 1877 and studied medicine under Dr. Ancil Gatliff before entering the Hospital College of Medicine at Louisville, where he graduated in 1881. He returned to Williamsburg, where he established his own practice and married Belinda Jane Arthur, the daughter of Edward Arthur in 1882. He helped organize the Williamsburg Baptist Church in 1883, the Bank of Williamsburg, and the First National Bank of Williamsburg, where he served as president for 31 years. Dr. E.S. Moss and his son, Dr. Clive Arthur Moss practiced medicine in Williamsburg for a combined total of more than 100 years.