University of the Cumberlands notable alumni include a wide range of individuals, many of whom have achieved exceptional accomplishments. A common phrase you will hear on campus is “We believe each student has the ability to achieve incredible outcomes with the right learning environment and tools.” In each course, we strive to provide that to each person.
Our university works hard to ensure the very best outcome is possible for each student. That is one of the reasons we have been named a College of Distinction for three years in a row. We are the highest ranked university in the South for Social Mobility, as noted by U.S. News & World Report. And we were also named the Fastest growing University in Kentucky in 2019 by the Chronicle of Higher Education.
What does all of this mean for those looking at colleges in Kentucky? With University of the Cumberlands reputation and our dedication to providing exceptional service to each student, you can count on being a part of something valuable when you enroll with us.
Explore University of the Cumberlands Notable Alumni
Nothing illustrates our status as one of the top private universities in Kentucky as clearly or as distinctly as a review at our alumni and all of their accomplishments. Take a closer look at who they are and what they’ve accomplished.
Edwin P. Morrow
Edwin P. Morrow served as the 40th Governor of Kentucky from 1919 through 1923. He was a champion for equal rights for African American students and worked hard to minimize violence in the region. He is also well respected for contributing to fiscal conservatism within the state. Morrow is also revered for the leadership he provided by getting the legislature of the state to work together to achieve goals while also balancing politics. He was also active in the Watchmen of the Republic, an organization dedicated to eradicating prejudice and promoting tolerance. He also served as an attorney in the state both before and after his political career.
A fierce leader in college wrestling, Toccara Montgomery is well recognized for her skills on and off the mat. Part of UC’s 2006 graduating class, she graduated with a degree in elementary education and later earned her master’s degree. Montgomery had an impressive 29-0 college wrestling career in duals. She placed twice in Senior World teams. And, in 2004, she was on the first-ever women’s Olympic wrestling team. There, she placed seventh in the competition. She went on to earn two Senior World silver medals, two Junior World silver medals, and two Pan American Championship gold medals. In 2002, she was also named the International Wrestler of the Year by FILA.
Bert Combs was the 50th Governor of Kentucky, having secured his position in 1959. He was also a well-noted United States Circuit Judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals, appointed in 1967 by President Lyndon B. Johnson. His story is remarkable, having arisen from an early life of poverty to achieve a law degree. He was noted for his dedication to supporting education and in transforming the infrastructure of the state. After his political work, he continued to serve the community by representing the poor and leading the way for sweeping education reform measures.
Perhaps better known as “Eddie” Liddie, he was a well-recognized judo athlete. He is an American judoka, practicing judo since he was a child. He represented the United States in the sport during the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. There, he took the bronze medal in the men’s extra-lightweight division. He also earned medals in the 1979 and 1991 Pan American Games. He went on to teach at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado and was named a finalist for the USOC Paralympic Coach of the Year for 2013.
Many recognize the sweet folk music created by Jean Ritchie. She was an American singer, songwriter, and musician who attended University of the Cumberlands. Her career was unique in that it creates a link between traditional forms of folk music and more modern styles, allowing her to connect with a larger audience. She’s been recognized as the “Mother of Folk” as a result of her work. She performed many concerts including at Carnegie Hall and Royal Albert Hall. She also has numerous albums to her credit.
Leo White was a member of the 1980 class and inducted into the Cumberland Hall of Fame for his judo skills. He has an incredible history that includes 18 U.S. Senior National Championships. He is also a four-time champion of the World Military and U.S. International Invitational. He is a six-time U.S. Olympic Festival Champion and a four-time Pacific Rim Games gold medalist. He was also a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee Board of Directors.
For college football fans, Wendall Williams is likely a familiar name. He is a football player at the wide receiver position and was signed by the Texans in 2016. What many people know him for, though, is his ability to complete the 40-yard dash in record time—just 4.19 seconds. He also played for the New York Jets before a second stint with the Houston Texans.
Cathilee Deborahm Zingano, known as Cat to most, is a well-recognized mixed martial artist. She is currently with the Bellator MMA and competes in the Women’s Featherweight division. In 2013, she was the first woman to win a UFC fight by a technical knockout. She was ranked as high as #7 in the UFC bantamweight rankings. Here at University of the Cumberlands, she was a part of the women’s wrestling team and was named a four-time All-American and a National Champion.
After receiving a master’s degree in special education from University of the Cumberlands, Chris Ulmer went on to become an incredible advocate for disability rights in the U.S. He is well recognized as a special education teacher and also for his YouTube videos that have captured the attention of many. He is also the founder of Special Books by Special Kids, a nonprofit organization that gives a voice to children with special needs.