Cumberland University


CU elects new board members to expand 21st century vision


Cumberland University’s Board of Trust has elected four new board members. With backgrounds in fields ranging from business, law, and technology to healthcare and energy, the new members, which include Mrs. Cathy Gracey, Ms. Camellia Petty, The Honorable John D. Wootten, Jr., and Dr. Charles G. Groat, reflect Cumberland’s expanding vision of a 21st century education.

Cumberland University President Dr. Harvill Eaton said, “Cumberland University is the oldest university in the central South, yet it is sharply focused on reshaping its programs for the 21st century. That means understanding the industry groups that will drive the nation’s economy and jobs for our graduates. Our new trustees represent those industries. They are leaders in energy, healthcare, public service, and technology.”

The newly elected members are:

Dr. Charles G. Groat, President and CEO of the Water Institute of the Gulf, is a globally recognized expert on earth sciences, energy, resource assessment, groundwater issues, and coastal studies. Along with the decades of experience he brings from the United States Geological Survey, academia, and his work as a world-class scientist whose recent research has focused on energy and water resources, Groat spent many years developing an acute understanding of the needs of our coastal areas in Louisiana. He was appointed by President Bill Clinton and retained by President George W. Bush to serve as director of the U.S. Geological Survey. Groat’s degrees in geology are from the University of Rochester (A.B.), University of Massachusetts (M.S.), and The University of Texas at Austin (Ph.D.).

Ms. Camellia Petty, Vice President of Product and Application Development at Broadcast Music, Inc., has over 15 years of experience in building the business processes and technical foundations required to meet the future needs of BMI’s songwriters, composers, publishers, and licensees. This responsibility spans all application systems and product development within Broadcast Music, Inc., inclusive of data governance, data management, data architecture, imaging technology, and business intelligence. Petty holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Cumberland University. Petty is an active member of the Nashville Technology Council, the BMI Foundation, and ORACLE Customer Support Council.

Mrs. Cathy Gracey, a nurse and Cumberland University graduate, is an independent health and wellness professional. She attended Cumberland University and later served as a faculty member teaching nursing courses. Gracey also served on the Advisory Board for the Cumberland University School of Nursing. Gracey is married to William Gracey, who serves as CEO of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee.

The Honorable John D. Wootten, Jr., Circuit Judge, has served Division II of the Fifteenth Judicial District since 1998. Judge Wootten hears both criminal and civil cases in the Fifteenth District. Since his election to the bench, he has also been designated by the Supreme Court to hear a variety of both criminal and civil cases in the mid-state area. Prior to his election as circuit judge, Wootten served as an assistant district attorney general for the Fifteenth Judicial District. He retired from the Tennessee Air National Guard in 2004. Wootten’s military career, including active duty, reserve duty, and service in the Tennessee Air National Guard, spanned over 25 years. He retired holding the rank of colonel. Wootten’s military honors include the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, and the Air Force Achievement Medal. Wootten is a dual graduate of the University of Tennessee. He received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Tennessee in 1975 and his Doctor of Jurisprudence in 1977.

A complete list of members is located at