The first employee hired by Cleveland State President David F. Adkisson was Dr. George L. Mathis, Principal of Brainerd High School.  In his role as Dean of Students, Dr. Mathis immediately began touring area high schools to recruit students.  Like Dr. Adkisson, Mathis had vast experience in education.  He had worked at high schools in Chattanooga and Knoxville prior to World War II.  After returning from his wartime service in the Navy, he served as a coach, a teacher and an athletic director at Chattanooga High School.  He later served at various times as Principal of Hardy Junior High School, Elbert Long School and Brainerd High School.  While recruiting for Cleveland State, his standard comment was, “If you want to go to college, see me, and I’ll see that you have the opportunity to get an education at Cleveland State.”  His efforts were instrumental in attracting large numbers of students to the campus in the formative years of the college.

Dr. Mathis played a leading role in the establishment of a permanent scholarship endowment fund by the College Foundation.  He was one of the original members of the Hiwassee Mental Health Association, served on the board of “HERMES” (an association to assist mentally disabled people), was a member of the Title XX Human Services Region 3 Advisory Board, a trustee of Moccasin Bend Psychiatric Hospital, a member of Kiwanis, a member of the American Legion, a member of the Elks Club and a member of City Farmers.  In addition, he was Past President of the Brainerd Kiwanis Club and Lt. Governor of the Division III Kentucky-Tennessee District of Kiwanis.

Dr. Mathis retired on June 30, 1976, and he was honored with a surprise retirement party and by the news that the Student Center would be named for him by the State Board of Regents.  He continued to support the college after retirement, and for a few years he continued working as the Director of Public Relations for the Johnston Coca-Cola Bottling Company.