The Virginia Tech Alumni Association has named alumnus Gene A. James as a 2004 Alumni Distinguished Service Award winner, an honor bestowed to recognize outstanding service and support on behalf of the university and the association.
The award is given annually in conjunction with the university’s Founders Day celebration occurring at 3 p.m. Friday, April 23, in the Donaldson Brown Hotel and Conference Center Auditorium. First taking place in 1972, Founders Day Convocation is Virginia Tech's annual celebration of the academic and professional achievements of the university and recognizing service to Virginia Tech.
James, of Richmond, Va., has achieved remarkable professional success and played a prominent role in Virginia agriculture. After graduating from Virginia Tech in 1953, he embarked on a 43-year career with Southern States Cooperative, the last 17 of which he served as president and chief executive officer.
Never forgetting his ties to his alma mater, James has served Virginia Tech over the years as president of The Virginia Tech Foundation, president of the Alumni Board of Directors, and as a Leadership Council of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences member. James has provided additional support and encouragement for programs of the Virginia Tech Foundation by serving two years on the Investment Committee and four years on the Executive and Finance Committee.
“Mr. James embodies the motto of our university: Ut Prosim, ‘That I may serve,’” said former president Paul E. Torgersen. “He is an active volunteer who has worked diligently over the years to help this university fulfill its mission to the Commonwealth of Virginia as the largest land-grant university in the state.”
The foundation and the university have prospered through James’ leadership in a number of other university associations. He has been a member of the Campaign Steering Committee, Co-Chairman of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Development Council during the Campaign for Virginia Tech, and a member of the Virginia Tech Economic Development Advisory Board.
In 1997, James and his wife, Ina Mae, established the Gene A. and Ina Mae James Graduate Fund Scholarship to benefit agriculture students at Virginia Tech.
An important leader in Virginia agriculture before his retirement in 1997, James’ counsel was always sought on important matters. In his professional career, he was a partner to numerous important organizations, including the Leadership of Farm Bureau, Agribusiness Council, the Land-Grant Universities, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and Atlantic Rural Exposition.
Most notably, James has represented agriculture on the Virginia Businessmen’s Higher Education Council, where he had an opportunity to influence the funding provided by the Commonwealth of Virginia for its universities.
James and his wife have four children and four grandchildren.
Founded in 1872 as a land-grant college, Virginia Tech has grown to become the largest university in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Today, Virginia Tech’s eight colleges are dedicated to putting knowledge to work through teaching, research, and outreach activities and to fulfilling its vision to be among the top 30 research universities in the nation. At its 2,600-acre main campus located in Blacksburg and other campus centers in Northern Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Hampton Roads, Richmond, and Roanoke, Virginia Tech enrolls more than 28,000 full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries in 170 academic degree programs.