Alumni inducted into Hall of Fame

Winston and Marilyn Samuels

Dean Alan Grant, right, presents an award to Winston and Marilyn Samuels, new members of the college Hall of Fame.

George E. Russell

Dean Alan Grant, right, welcomes George E. Russell into the Hall of Fame.

John L. Koontz

From left, Thomas Tillar, vice president of alumni relations, John L. Koontz, and Dean Alan Grant celebrate Koontz’s Outstanding Recent Alumni Award.

George E. Russell of Blacksburg, Va., and Winston and Marilyn Samuels of Warwick, N.Y., were inducted into the college’s Hall of Fame at the annual alumni awards reception held in March. John L. Koontz of Oak Park, Ill., was recognized with the college’s Outstanding Recent Alumni Award.

Russell, vice president emeritus for alumni relations, earned his B.S. in animal science from Virginia Tech in 1952 and received a master’s degree and Ph.D. from other universities. After a distinguished career with Virginia Cooperative Extension, Russell joined the Virginia Tech Alumni Association in 1968 as director of alumni affairs. Now retired, Russell remains active with his alma mater.

Winston Samuels completed his master’s and doctoral degrees in animal science at Virginia Tech in 1980 and 1983, respectively. Marilyn earned a B.S. in psychology at Virginia Tech in 1982 and a master’s degree at Radford University. They co-founded Maxx Performance Inc., a progressive biotech company that improves the functionality of raw ingredients for food and health.

A principal investigator and chemist at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Koontz earned bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees in food science and technology from Virginia Tech in 2000, 2003, and 2008, respectively. His current research focuses on food packaging safety.

Other award winners included:

  • Outstanding Ambassador: Kiley Petencin of Charlottesville, Va., a senior majoring in human nutrition, foods and exercise
  • Outstanding Faculty Service Award: Kurt Stephenson of Blacksburg, Va., professor of agricultural and applied economics
  • Outstanding Alumni Leadership Award: Ronnie Gill of Tappahannock, Va., executive vice president with Colonial Farm Credit
  • Outstanding Alumnus in International Programs: Lire Ersado of Washington, D.C., senior economist with the World Bank

For more information on these and other departmental award recipients, visit