Doctor of Canine Jurisprudence
According to Cumberland tradition, Rascal was a mongrel pup who faithfully attended classes at the law school’s former home in Lebanon, Tennessee, beginning in 1933, and in 1937 he was presented the rare degree of Doctor of Canine Jurisprudence. Rascal passed away in 1940, and was buried with much ceremony beneath the window where he attended classes. When Cumberland moved to Birmingham in 1961, Rascal’s tombstone and a few spadefuls of dirt were brought to the Samford Campus, and again interred at Blackacre, on the west side of Robinson Hall.
Typically, after a eulogy delivered by Professor Howard Walthall, everyone follows a New Orleans funeral band and processes around the campus with their dogs. Finally, to honor Rascal’s memory, the students eat a hot dog lunch (yes, for real) served by the faculty, and awards are given out to the pets.
Having been at this event with my dog, Winnie, I can tell you that everyone – students, professors, dogs – has a great time. It’s typical of the community-oriented, collegial environment at Cumberland, and why Cumberland was such a great place to start my teaching career.
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