Virginia Tech honored alumnus Paul M. Saunders, a Nelson County native, with the Alumni Distinguished Service Award during the university’s commencement celebration on May 12.

The Virginia Tech Alumni Association Distinguished Service Award is presented annually to recognize distinguished outstanding service to the university and the association.

“We are pleased to present Mr. Saunders with this award,” said Thomas C. Tillar Jr., vice president of alumni relations. “He has dedicated many years of service and is an avid supporter of many initiates undertaken on the universities behalf.”

Saunders is the owner of Saunders Brothers Nurseries, Inc., a wholesale nursery in Piney River, Va., which began as a partnership between five brothers in 1915. Saunders has spent more than 50 years growing and observing boxwood varieties, he is the author of The “Best of the Best” Boxwood Cultivars Manual and has been nationally recognized as a leading authority on boxwoods.

Saunders has maintained a strong commitment to Virginia Tech for many years as past president of the alumni association. He has served on the agriculture alumni board of directors and the College of Agriculture and Life Science’s Leadership Council. Saunders has also served on the Regional Campaign Committee, the Virginia Tech Foundation Board, and the Class of 1954 Reunion Committee. In addition to his service, Saunders is a benefactor of the Ut Prosim Society.

Saunders graduated from Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering. He currently resides in Piney River. He has seven sons, all of whom are Virginia Tech graduates.

Founded in 1872 as a land-grant college, Virginia Tech is the most comprehensive university in the Commonwealth of Virginia and is among the top research universities in the nation. Today, Virginia Tech’s eight colleges are dedicated to quality, innovation, and results through teaching, research, and outreach activities. 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 undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries in 180 academic degree programs.

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