George E. Russell of Blacksburg, Va., and Winston and Marilyn Samuels of Warwick, N.Y., are the 2012-13 inductees into the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Hall of Fame. 

Their selection is the result of their outstanding service to the college, university, and the agricultural and life sciences communities.

“We are extremely grateful to these individuals for their generosity and for all of the support they have provided to the college over a great many years,” said Alan Grant, dean of the college. “We are stronger today because of the work they have done on behalf of the university and the college.”

George E. Russell

Russell, vice president emeritus for alumni relations, served Virginia Tech for more than 27 years. After graduating in 1952 with a Bachelor of Science degree in animal science, Russell earned his master’s degree in agricultural education at the University of Maryland in 1959 and his doctorate degree in Extension education at the University of Wisconsin in 1964.

After a distinguished career with Virginia Cooperative Extension, Russell joined the Virginia Tech Alumni Association in 1968 as director of alumni affairs. He oversaw the creation of new alumni activities as the number of alumni grew from 30,000 to more than 130,000 at the time of his retirement in 1995. He served as president of the alumni association for 10 years and was named vice president for alumni relations in 1991, when it became an official part of the university.

During his tenure, he helped shape the alumni chapter and reunion programs as well as the early annual-giving program that continues to benefit and strengthen the university today. The Century Club donor-recognition program originated under his leadership. 

Under his guidance, the Student Alumni Associates of Virginia Tech began in 1974. On his recommendation, two endowments were created in the early 1970s to support faculty professorships and student merit scholarships. In addition, annual excellence-in-teaching awards were established and later expanded to include awards for extension, research, and advisory excellence.

Russell has done post-doctorate study at the Wharton School of Finance, and participated in the Institute in Alumni Administration and Long Range Planning conducted by the American Alumni Council. He served on numerous district programs and the faculty for the Summer Institute in Alumni Administration for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

Russell received the Alumni Distinguished Service Award in the spring of 1998. Soon after his retirement, the Alumni Board of Directors elected to rename the Outstanding Chapter Awards to the G.E. “Buddy” Russell Outstanding Chapter Awards. In 2007, the Class of 1952 named the Alumni Center fountain in his honor. 

Since his retirement, Russell has remained active with his alma mater, serving as president of the Old Guard, and as a member of both the Class of 1952 reunion planning committee and the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets Alumni Board of Directors.

Winston and Marilyn Samuels

Winston Samuels completed his master’s degree and doctoral degree in animal science at Virginia Tech while Marilyn earned her Bachelor of Science degree at Virginia Tech and her master’s degree in psychology at Radford University. 

After successful careers, the couple cofounded Maxx Performance Inc. in Chester, N.Y., in 2004, and now share leadership of the company and its financial management. Their successful entrepreneurial venture is a progressive biotechnology company that improves the functionality of raw ingredients for food and health by manufacturing and marketing of microencapsulated ingredients and delivery systems. The Samuels moved their production plant to Roanoke, Va., in 2012 in order to stimulate high tech business development in the region.

Before launching Maxx Performance, Winston was vice president and general manager of Balchem Corporation, a publicly traded specialty chemical company. While under his leadership, Business Week and Forbes recognized Balchem as one of the 100 Hottest Growth Companies in 2002. In a previous position at Monsanto, Winston quickly rose through the ranks to manage the company’s $200 million phosphate business. 

In 2008, the Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences recognized him as its outstanding alumnus.

The Samuels have long shared their success by funding academic and student affairs programs at Virginia Tech. Their first donation underwrote graduate student travel shortly after they themselves received their graduate degrees. 

They also support animal science research, the Graduate School, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Dean’s Fund for Excellence, Multicultural Affairs, Women in Leadership and Philanthropy, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Alumni Organization’s Scramble for Scholars, and the ice hockey program. Most recently, the Samuels established the Samuels Family Enrichment Fund to support student travel abroad.