Alumni honored at Cumberlands Homecoming celebration

Nov. 23—WILLIAMSBURG — University of the Cumberlands was proud to honor distinguished alumni at the school's Homecoming celebration. Dr. Leslie Boozer of San Diego, CA, and Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Holbrook of Knoxville, TN, were inducted into Cumberlands' Hall of Distinguished Alumni; John Hughes of Frankfort, KY, received the Outstanding Young Alumnus award; and both George Green Ellis, MD, of Old Fort, NC, and Hal Moses, MD, of Nashville, TN — both of whom have been inducted into Cumberlands' Hall of Distinguished Alumni previously — were awarded honorary degrees from the university, as the school was still a junior college back when they attended.

Dr. Leslie Boozer earned a bachelor's degree with a double major in business administration and history/political science from Cumberlands. She went on to receive her Juris Doctor (JD) from University of Cincinnati, her Master of Education (EdM) in Education Policy and Management from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Education (EdD) from Harvard University in their Urban Superintendents Program. Dr. Boozer currently serves as chair of the Department of Leadership Studies and Professor of Practice at the University of San Diego. Her work is anchored in her experience as an urban schools practitioner, researcher, and leader. Her research topics include educational policy, leading for social justice and equity, K-12 leadership and change management in urban and suburban school districts, and conflict resolution and human resource management.

Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Holbrook was among the first class of ROTC cadets at Cumberland College when the program was reestablished in 1998. LTC Holbrook is currently serving as the chief of operations for the 9th Mission Support Command. He completed his bachelor's degree at Cumberlands and was commissioned at his graduation ceremony in May 2002. He served two combat tours in Iraq (2003-2004 and 2005-2006). Throughout his time in the U.S. Army, LTC Holbrook has held many prestigious positions commanding battalions, managing operations, and more. After his promotion to lieutenant colonel, he served as deputy commander of the 206th RSG from 2021 to summer 2022, before receiving the rare honor of selection to attend the US Army War College as a resident student, graduating with a master's degree in strategic studies in 2023. LTC Holbrook was honored with a Bronze Star Medal in 2004. He has received four Meritorious Service Medals, four Army Commendation Medals, and two Army Achievement Medals throughout his time in service. He is also a valued member of the Army Engineer Association and the Army War College Alumni Foundation.

John Hughes earned his degree in political science with a minor in business administration. In 2019, he served as the legislative liaison for the Kentucky Attorney General, handling coordination between the Attorney General's Office and the General Assembly. His biggest accomplishment during this role was advocating for the General Assembly for passage of the establishment of the Opioid Abatement Commission. He worked closely with Attorney General Daniel Cameron during the primary campaign, serving as campaign manager and political director. He was also a staff assistant for the Speaker of the House of Representatives and a regional political director for Andy Barr during his 2018 reelection campaign. Currently, John serves as the Public Affairs Manager for the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, lobbying the General Assembly on behalf of Chamber members. His portfolio consists of education, small business, and tort reform issues.

George Ellis, MD, was born in 1937 in Whitley County, KY, but has resided in North Carolina the majority of his life. He enrolled at Cumberland College (then a two-year college), graduating in 1956. Dr. Ellis went on to graduate from Berea College with a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry in 1958. He married that same year and attended the University of Louisville School of Medicine, graduating in 1962 with his Doctor of Medicine degree. In 1963, Dr. Ellis was drafted and served in the US Air Force as chief of advanced medicine in their Medical Services Section and as branch chief of Medical and Surgical Section before his honorable discharge in 1965. Roughly one week after his discharge from the USAF, he opened a private medical practice in Old Fort, NC, which was incorporated in 1971 as Old Fort Medical Clinic. Delivering more than 3,000 babies, Dr. Ellis worked at the clinic until his retirement in 2003. He continued working in a hospital-owned clinic until 2007, fully retiring at age 70. Dr. Ellis was an active member of the North Carolina State Medical Society, the McDowell County Medical Society, and was a Certified Board Member of the American Academy of Family Practice. For decades, he has also been heavily involved in his community and church, which he continues in his retirement. He and his wife live in Old Fort, NC.

Hal Moses, MD, attended Cumberland College when it was a two-year school, graduating in 1956. He and George Ellis attended Berea College together. Dr. Moses completed his Bachelor of Arts from Berea College in 1958 and his Doctor of Medicine (MD) from Vanderbilt University in 1962. Dr. Moses led the cancer research team at Vanderbilt which discovered in 1984 that there is a naturally-produced protein in human bodies which slows the growth of cancer — changing the landscape of cancer research for decades. He has received more than two dozen honors for his work in medicine, leadership, and cancer research over the decades, contributed to 350 scientific publications, presented his work in 40 states and 22 countries, served as the founding director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, founded and directed the Frances Williams Preston Laboratories, and more. Now happily retired, and living in Nashville, TN, Dr. Moses and his wife enjoy spending quality time with their family and traveling around the world.

University of the Cumberlands is proud to have had the chance to honor these distinguished alumni for their accomplishments, work ethic, character, and service to others. Not only have they represented the values of their alma mater, but they have also shown unwavering devotion to the improvement of society, using their knowledge, skills, and talents to advance their communities toward health, safety, unity, and success.