The first Phoenix Ball was held in 1984 and created by Mrs. Mary Clement, who at the time, served as First Lady of Cumberland University to President Bob Clement.  Mary founded the Phoenix Ball to serve as the University's signature event.  She and a dedicated group of volunteers felt that it would be a way to raise the visibility of Cumberland in the greater Nashville area, raise funds for Cumberland's deserving students, and lastly provide an evening of dancing and entertainment for the attendees.

During the early years of the Ball, funds raised were used for various projects around campus including the purchase of library books, carpeting for Memorial Hall, and other things needed for the campus.  In recent years, the funds have been allocated to support scholarships for needy and deserving students.  The University has many students who receive financial aid from various sources.  The Phoenix Ball helps provide additional funds to students who need support over and above what they can receive from their Pell Grant, the Lottery scholarship, loans, or private sources.