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Dr. Ben Cumbus (’72) of Montgomery, Ala received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the UAB National Alumni Society.

Dr. Ben Cumbus and his wife Ginny on a pre-pandemic trip to New ZealandDr. Ben Cumbus (’72) and his wife, Ginny, on a pre-pandemic trip to New ZealandThe semi-retired pediatric dentist has devoted much of his professional career as a volunteer for his alma mater, the UAB School of Dentistry.

Cumbus has held numerous leadership positions and currently serves as immediate past president of the School of Dentistry’s Alumni Association. “One person cannot do it all. It takes a group of people who are willing to serve. I love being a part of that,” he said. “I am working for a cause I believe in. I was fortunate enough to graduate from one of the world’s top dental schools in UAB. The education and training I received gave me a tremendous opportunity, and I want to give back.”

Cumbus recalled a lunch meeting back in 2014 when classmate Dr. Joel Hearn (’72) and School of Dentistry Executive Director of Development Scott Huffman approached him to chair the Campaign for UAB Dentistry. “When they said we want you to chair a $20 million campaign, my jaw dropped,” he shared. Not only did he lead the completion of that campaign, but he upped the stakes by raising the goal to $25 million. “Hopefully I had some positive influence. It was a pleasure to work with Scott, his staff, and all of the dentists who participated. We have a very giving alumni base,” he said. 

After graduating from dental school, Cumbus was a Captain in the US Air Force. While stationed in Germany, he met his wife, Ginny. He considered endodontics as a specialty but ultimately decided on a pediatric dentistry residency at UAB. “When I was in the Air Force, I loved treating kids on the base. I thought I could make a difference in treating children,” he said. He went on to complete his residency and practice for more than forty years in Montgomery. 

Now semi-retired from his pediatric dentistry practice, Ben Joe as his friends call him, still volunteers with several non-profits, including the School of Dentistry. He serves on the Department of Pediatric Dentistry’s Alumni Association. He also sat on the search committee that interviewed and selected Dr. Russ Taichman as the school’s ninth dean. “He grilled me during the interview,” joked Taichman. “Seriously, he is a rock star among all UAB alumni. He has been a pleasure to work with and an inspiration to me.”

Cumbus says he will continue to volunteer for UAB and the School of Dentistry. “It is a world class institution and the School of Dentistry is the shining star of the university.” Just like Cumbus is the shining star among all UAB alumni.