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Alumnus Matthews hired as UNG’s next Commandant of Cadets

Col Joseph Matthews
Col. Joseph Matthews currently serves as the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence (G-2), 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam, Hawaii.

Col. Joseph Matthews, a military intelligence officer and 1994 graduate of the University of North Georgia (UNG), has been hired as the university’s Commandant of Cadets.

Dr. James Conneely, vice president of student affairs and enrollment management at UNG, announced the hiring.

“In addition to Col. Matthews’ 26 years of military service and leadership experience, he brings to the position enormous dedication and passion to our cadets’ success. I am confident that his leadership will continue the positive momentum established by retired Col. Tom Palmer and our Corps of Cadets,” Conneely said. “Matthews’ background and experience in military intelligence will be an asset as we continue to build our cyber and strategic studies programs, and he is enthusiastic about our language programs and global engagement opportunities for cadets.”

Matthews currently serves as the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence (G-2), 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam, Hawaii.  Matthews and his wife Sarah, a 1995 alumna, have three children: Alaina, who is a freshman at UNG, and Mary and David, who attend schools in Hawaii.  Matthews is expected to arrive on campus in mid-July.

“I feel this is a great opportunity to give back to the university and Corps of Cadets; they gave so much to my wife and I when we were students in Dahlonega,” Matthews said. “This is truly a dream come true. Now after 26 years of military service, I look forward to continuing to serve our country by helping mold the next generation of UNG cadets into great leaders in our Army and society.”

Matthews enlisted in the Georgia Army National Guard in 1992 and received an Army commission as an Air Defense Artillery Officer upon graduating from UNG with a bachelor’s degree in history. He also has earned a Master of Strategic Studies degree from the Army War College and a Master of Military Operational Art and Science degree from the Air Force Command and Staff College. He has edited and been published in scholarly publications and also has experience teaching and training both American and foreign military personnel. 

Retired Lt. Col. Mike Ivy, director of cadet admissions at UNG, led the search committee that included cadets, students, faculty, staff and alumni.

“I did not envy the decision of the university leadership,” Ivy said. “Each of the finalists for this position was exceptional and possessed a unique skill set that would benefit UNG and the Corps of Cadets. Without a doubt, thousands of future leaders will benefit from this decision and have a transformational experience at UNG.”

Matthews has had multiple overseas deployments, including combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, and he has led military intelligence units at the battalion level.  His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Defense Meritorious Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Meritorious Service Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Medal 2nd Award, Joint Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, Joint Meritorious Unit Award with Oak Leaf Cluster, Meritorious Unit Citation, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Valor Device, and others.

He also is a recipient of the Knowlton Award for exceptional service and significant contribution to the Military Intelligence Corps and the Honorable Order of Saint Barbara Award for outstanding competence and unwavering support to the Air Defense Artillery Corps.

In announcing the hiring of Matthews, Conneely also expressed his gratitude to the search committee, led by Ivy, and for the years of service by Palmer, who retires at the end of June.

“The university owes much gratitude to retired Col. Tom Palmer, who has been the Commandant for 20 years, for his distinguished service to the Corps of Cadets, to this university, and to our nation,” Conneely said. “He has led with distinction and has built a strong foundation for future success.”


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