A member of the VMI Class of 1960, G.G. Phillips Jr. is the former chief executive officer and chairman of Henderson & Phillips Inc., an insurance company in Norfolk, Virginia. He is former chairman of Seaboard Financial Group.
A dedicated alumnus, he served as president of the VMI Keydet Club from 1973 to 1975, was a member of the VMI Board of Visitors from 1979 to 1985, a trustee of the VMI Foundation from 1986 to 1997, and the Foundation’s president from 1993 to 1995.
In early 2000, Phillips became chairman of the comprehensive capital campaign, Reveille: A Call to Excel, a five-year effort that raised more than $207 million in gifts and commitments for VMI. He also developed the concept of the Jackson-Hope Fund and has been the chairman of its Board of Overseers since the Fund’s inception. To celebrate his service to VMI, the VMI Foundation presented Phillips with the Distinguished Service Award, its highest honor, in 1998.
Widely recognized for his leadership in business and civic affairs in Virginia, Bruce C. Gottwald is the former chairman of the board of New Market Corp., the Richmond-based parent company of Afton Chemical and Ethyl Corp. He also served as chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Ethyl Corp. from 1992 to 2001.
A member of the VMI Class of 1954, Gottwald has served VMI as a member of the VMI Board of Visitors for three terms, from 1978 to 1982 and from 1995 to 2003, serving as president from 1998 to 2001. He served on the VMI Keydet Club’s Board of Governors from 1960 to 1973 and was the organization’s president from 1971 to 1973.
From 1985 to 1992, he was a member of the VMI Foundation’s Board of Trustees. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Center of Leadership and Ethics as well as the foundation of the Jackson-Hope Fund.
Gottwald is one of the few VMI alumni who have been presented with the highest honor of both the VMI Foundation and the VMI Keydet Club. He received the former’s Distinguished Service Award in 1993 and the latter’s Spirit of VMI Award in 2004.
Thomas E. Gottwald ’83 is chairman of the board of NewMarket Corp., the Richmond-based parent company of Afton Chemical Co. and Ethyl Corp. He assumed this position in 2014.
Gottwald became president and CEO of NewMarket in March 2004, having previously served as president and CEO of Ethyl Corp. from June 2001 through June 2004 and, prior to that, president and chief operating officer of Ethyl. He has also served on the board of Tredegar Corp.
Gottwald holds a Bachelor of Science degree with Distinction in chemistry from VMI and a Master of Business Administration degree from the Harvard Business School. As a cadet, he was president of his class and played football for four years. As a football player, he was an Academic All-American for one year and an Academic All-Southern Conference player for three years. He served VMI as a member of the Keydet Club’s Board of Governors from 1998 to 2004.
Gottwald is involved in numerous civic activities in the Richmond area, including the Virginia Home for Boys, the Valentine Museum, and the Children's Museum of Richmond.
Related to numerous alumni, he also is the father of two, Thomas D. Gottwald ’09 and Edward P. Gottwald ’14.
Charles S. Luck IV ’83 is president and CEO of Luck Stone Inc., a position he has held since 2000. Headquartered in Manakin-Sabot, Virginia, and employing more than 1,100 people, Luck Stone is best known for providing construction aggregates and decorative stone, but it also has interests in commercial real estate and tennis court products.
In April 2011, Luck, who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from VMI, was honored as the University of Richmond’s Robins School of Business Executive of the Year. Luck is active in civic affairs in Virginia, involved with such institutions as the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, St. Christopher School, and the YMCA.
Luck also raced stock cars for many years, including his time at VMI. A third-generation graduate of the Institute, Luck’s son, Richard, is the vice president of the Class of 2012.
John C. Miller II ’61 spent his professional career in the insurance business. He started with Aetna Insurance Co. in 1963. He returned to his native Saint Louis in 1971 to work with a national insurance brokerage firm, and, in 1975, he helped establish C.J. Thomas Co. Inc., which now is one of the largest regional insurance brokerage firms in the Midwest. Miller has served as a director and is chairman emeritus of the company.
In 1986, he founded Rural Housing Reinsurance Co. Ltd. of Hamilton, Bermuda, and he now serves as that company’s president.
Miller graduated from VMI with a degree in history and served two years in the U.S. Army as a cavalry officer.
Miller served two terms as member of the VMI Foundation’s Board of Trustees, from 1991 to 1999 and 2007 to 2015.
James E. Rogers '67 has been the chairman of the board of BackOffice Associates LLC since 2011. Prior to that, he was president of SCI Investors Inc., a private equity investment firm.
From 1982 to 1991, he held senior positions with the James River Corp. He was the founding president and CEO of Specialty Coatings International from 1991 to 1993 and the founding chairman of the board of Customs Papers Group from 1993 to 1996. From 2003 to 2007, he was the chairman of the board of Caraustar Industries Inc. Rogers also has been a director of numerous companies, including Owens & Minor Inc., NewMarket Corp., and Mohawk Paper Mills Inc.
A prominent leader in civic and charitable affairs, he was the founding president of the Richmond Historic Riverfront Foundation, and he is a trustee of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science Foundation and a former vice chairman of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. He also is a member of the George C. Marshall Foundation’s Council of Advisors.
At VMI, Rogers majored in physics and was a member of Sigma Pi Sigma, the physics honor society. He was a member of the Honor Court and a track and field athlete and was listed in Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities.
Rogers holds a Master of Science degree in nuclear engineering from the University of Virginia and is a graduate of the Advanced Management Program of Harvard Business School.
A member of the VMI Foundation’s Board of Trustees from 1997 to 2004, he was its president from 2000 to 2002. In July 2004, he began eight years of service on VMI’s Board of Visitors, and, from 2007 to 2012, he was its vice president. He now is vice chairman of An Uncommon Purpose: A Glorious Past, A Brilliant Future: The Campaign for VMI.
Thomas A. Saunders '58 has been the president of Ivor & Co. LLC, a private investment company, since 2000. He was a founder of the private-equity firm Saunders Karp & Megrue Partners (SKM) LLC, which merged with Apax Partners in 2005. He also worked 22 years for the investment-banking firm Morgan Stanley and was a managing director of that firm from 1974 to 1989. He has served as a director for many corporations, including Dollar Tree Stores Inc. and Hibbett Sports Inc.
Saunders has been the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation as well as a member of the Board of Visitors of the University of Virginia. He also is the former chairman of the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business Foundation. He currently is a member of the Board of Trustees of The Heritage Foundation and the Marine Corps University Foundation. In 2008, President George W. Bush awarded him the National Humanities Medal.
Along with his Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from VMI, Saunders holds a Master of Business Administration degree from the Darden School.
He has served VMI as a member of the Board of Visitors from 1993 to 2001, the VMI Foundation’s Board of Trustees from 1980 to 1987 and 1990 to 1993, and the executive committee of the capital campaign, Reveille: A Call to Excel. He received the VMI Foundation’s Distinguished Service Award in 2004.
Donald M. Wilkinson '61 is cofounder of the global investment-management firm Wilkinson O’Grady. He served from 1977 to 1994 as its president and from 1994 to 2014 as its chairman.
Wilkinson earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from VMI, then served in the U.S. Army as an air defense artillery officer from 1962 to 1964. He earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Virginia’s Colgate W. Darden School of Business in 1966.
Wilkinson served as a volunteer with VMI’s Sesquicentennial Challenge in the 1980s, then, from 1989 to 1997, served on the VMI Foundation’s Board of Trustees. From 2000 to 2005, he was the vice chairman of VMI’s campaign, Reveille: A Call to Excel, which raised $207 million. In 2002, he helped establish the Jackson-Hope Fund. He is chairman of An Uncommon Purpose: A Glorious Past, A Brilliant Future: The Campaign for VMI.
Appointed to VMI’s Board of Visitors in 1999, he served on that body until 2007. He was the Board’s vice president from 2005 to 2007 and the chairman of its Academic Affairs Committee for four years.
In 2010, the VMI Foundation recognized Wilkinson’s long record of service to the Institute and the VMI Foundation by presenting him its Distinguished Service Award.
Hugh M. Fain III is the managing director of the law firm Spotts Fain, which he co-founded In 1988. His practice emphasizes commercial and business litigation.
The son of the late Hugh M. Fain Jr. '49C, Fain is a native of Richmond, Virginia, and as a cadet he was a prosecutor on the Honor Court and vice president of his class. He also played with the VMI Lacrosse Club. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics with distinction and was a member of the international economics honor society, Omicron Delta Epsilon. He earned his juris doctor degree from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he served on the editorial board of the Journal of Natural Resources Law and was a member of the Raven Society.
Fain is a past president of the Richmond Bar Association and is president of the Virginia Bar Association. He has been named by his peers to the Best Lawyers in America’s Bet-the-Company Litigation and Commercial Litigation lists. The magazine Virginia Business has placed him on its Legal Elite list each year since 2003, and the Virginia Super Lawyers list has included his name each year since its inception.
Fain’s service to VMI is extensive. He is a past president of the VMI Club of Richmond and was the president of the VMI Alumni Association from 2000 to 2002. He served on the Board of Trustees of the VMI Foundation from 2005 to 2011 and rejoined the Board in 2012. He currently is the president of the VMI Foundation, a position he has held since 2014.
John P. Jumper ’66 served in the U.S. Air Force for 39 years, closing his career as its 17th chief of staff from 2001 to 2005. Before that, Gen. Jumper served as a wartime commander during conflicts in Iraq, Serbia, and Kosovo. He also served as senior military assistant to Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Les Aspin. He accumulated 5,000 flying hours, including more than 1,400 combat hours in Vietnam and Iraq.
After retiring from the Air Force, Jumper served on the board of directors of Science Applications International Corp. and, in March 2012, became its CEO. In that position, he guided the separation of the company into two entities. Until his retirement in July 2014, he served as the chairman of the board and chief executive officer of the entity which became Leidos, a Fortune 500 science and technology company. Jumper also serves on the boards of numerous corporations and non-profit organizations, including Rolls-Royce North America, the George C. Marshall Foundation, and the Museum of the American Revolution.
While in the Air Force, he often returned to post, acting as the Air Force commissioning officer several times and speaking on numerous occasions, including at the 2001 Institute Society Dinner. He joined the VMI Foundation’s Board of Trustees in 2008 and was appointed to the Institute’s Board of Visitors in 2009. He became the president of the Board in 2016.
Beginning work at the VMI Foundation in May 1976, Buddy Bryan is one of the longest serving employees in the organization’s history.
A Biology major as a cadet, he served as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force for four years after graduation flying the KC-135 Stratotanker.
During his time at the VMI Foundation, he has been responsible for The Institute Society; the 50th and 25th Reunion Campaigns; planned giving and major gift solicitations. Immediately before becoming Interim CEO on January 1, 2017, he had served as the Foundation’s Vice President for Major Gifts for ten years. He became the CEO of the VMI Foundation on April 23, 2017.
A member of the VMI Class of 1962, retired U.S. Army Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III was named the Virginia Military Institute’s 14th superintendent in November 2002 and assumed command in July 2003. A major initiative during Peay’s leadership has been Vision 2039, a strategic plan for the Institute to improve the academic, military, and athletic programs and the infrastructure to enhance cadet leadership development and the environment in which it takes place.
Peay assumed command of the 101st Airborne Division in 1989 and led the Division throughout Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in the first Persian Gulf war. Promoted to lieutenant general, he was assigned as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans, Department of the Army, and senior Army member, United States Military Committee, United Nations. In 1993, he was promoted to the rank of general and appointed the 24th Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army. His last assignment was as Commander-in-Chief, United States Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, from 1994 to 1997, with responsibility for the region encompassing 20 countries in Africa, the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, and South Asia.
Peay holds a Master of Arts degree from George Washington University and also is a graduate of the United States Army War College.
Retired U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey G. Smith Jr. ’79 is dean of the faculty and deputy superintendent for academics. Born into a military family, Smith accepted a commission in the Army upon graduation from VMI and embarked upon a military career of more than 33 years that concluded with his retirement in 2013 as deputy commanding general of Army Cyber Command.
Smith began his Army career with company grade officer positions in the 9th Infantry Division at Fort Lewis, Washington, and in Europe in the Pershing II Nuclear Missile Command. He later taught English at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, where he helped found a literary journal, The Circle in the Spiral. Smith served the U.S. Army, U.S. Central Command, and NATO in command and principal staff roles in Europe, Bosnia/Herzegovina, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
During Operation Iraqi Freedom, Smith commanded the 22nd Signal Brigade. As commander of that brigade, dual-hatted as V Corps G-6, Smith installed, operated, and defended the information environment for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. During Operation Enduring Freedom, Smith served as the Army’s senior signal officer to Afghanistan, responsible for expanding the combat network in support of the 2009 surge. Upon his return, Smith established Europe’s first regional cyber center.
In addition to his bachelor’s degree in English and biology from VMI, Smith holds a doctorate in English literature from Princeton University and a master’s degree in national security from the National War College. Smith serves on the Advisory Board to the Army Cyber Institute at West Point.
Smith’s decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal (2), the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit (3), and the Bronze Star (2).
Capt. Michael J. Sebastino is VMI’s associate dean for academic administration and planning. From 2003 to 2009, Sebastino was the Institute’s grants, contracts, and intellectual property administrator. In this position, he established strong working relationships with state and federal agencies, the VMI Foundation, and faculty and staff across post. He supported the development of the undergraduate research initiative and played a key role in organizing the academic program’s funding requests and in reporting to the Jackson-Hope Board of Overseers.
Sebastino holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from The Citadel and a master of business administration degree from Old Dominion University. Prior to his arrival at VMI, he worked as a licensing associate at Brookhaven National Laboratory, and he is a commissioned officer with more than 21 years of service in both the active and reserve components of the U.S. Navy.