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Judge Combs Receives Honorary Doctorate from University of the Cumberlands


Williamsburg, Ky. – On Monday, January 16th, University of the Cumberlands (UC) held its annual Founders Day Convocation. The ceremony was used as a time of reflection and remembrance of the University’s heritage as well as a time to remember and pay tribute to the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

During the convocation the University, by unanimous vote from the Board of Trustees, awarded the Honorary Doctorate of Law degree to Sara Combs and Roy Dowdy.

“I thank the board and it’s an honor to be here today at this fine university that has a dear place in my heart,” said Judge Combs.

Sara Walter Combs who is presently serving as a judge in the Kentucky Court of Appeals, 7th District, 1st Division, Stanton, Kentucky, is the widow of former Governor Bert T. Combs who is a Cumberland alumnus.

Governor Combs, before his death, created the Bert T. Combs Scholarship Program which provides students educational opportunities at UC.

During her acceptance speech Judge Combs talked about her husband who over 40 years ago was directly involved with the same dream that Dr. King had that everyone would be judged by their character instead of their color. A few years before Dr. King made his famous speech at the footsteps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, the former Governor Combs signed a bill into law that eliminated discrimination in public facilities.

Judge Combs recalled part of Dr. King’s speech that says, “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy during this time of social transition is not the stride and clamor of bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”

Judge Combs went on to explain the importance of her husband receiving an education from University of the Cumberlands. “My husband did not remain silent because he graduated from this Christian school that was founded in the same principles and leadership you are learning now,” said Combs. “He spoke for what he believed in.”

As Judge Combs concluded her speech she challenged all students to look at their own heritage and to find their place in this world to do something good.

Judge Combs, originally from Louisville, KY, received her Bachelor of Arts in French from the University of Louisville (UL) in 1970 being named Valedictorian. She continued her education earning a Master’s degree in French Literature from UL before going on to get her JD from UL’s School of Law. Throughout her career Judge Combs has worked at several different jobs including becoming the first woman to serve on the Commonwealth’s highest court, the Kentucky Supreme Court.

Located in Williamsburg, Ky., University of the Cumberlands is an institution of regional distinction, which currently offers four undergraduate degrees in more than 40 major fields of study; nine pre-professional programs; seven graduate degrees; including a doctorate and six master’s degrees; certification in education; and online programs.