The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Alumni Organization held its annual Celebration of Ut Proism (That I May Serve) virtually on Oct. 8, 2020, honoring outstanding alumni and friends of the college.

The college celebrated six award recipients at the virtual event:

  • Louis Andre Swiger, Hall of Fame
  • Megan Seibel, Outstanding Recent Graduate Alumni
  • Bradley Copenhaver, Outstanding Recent Undergraduate Alumni
  • Doug Sutton, Honorary Alumni Award
  • Scott Greiner, Outstanding Faculty Alumni Engagement Award
  • Rachel Kanefsky, Outstanding Ambassador

Swiger, dean emeritus of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, was inducted into the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Hall of Fame, which recognizes the college’s alumni and friends who have distinguished themselves professionally in their careers and who have given exemplary service to the college, the university, or the agricultural and life sciences industries.  

Swiger is known for his efforts to further animal agriculture and the agricultural industry. His programs in research, teaching, and Extension were directed toward the application of genetic principles to the improvement of livestock for economic traits, such as growth, leanness, feed efficiency, meat quality, and reproduction. He has impacted the breeding practices of industry seedstock enterprises, especially performance testing of beef cattle and swine. He is also a strong supporter of the land-grant system and as an administrator he promoted a balance of basic discovery and applied research to advance the agricultural industry.

Seibel M.S. ’08, Ph.D. ’12 was named the 2019 Outstanding Recent Graduate Alumni in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She was also the Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education’s Outstanding Recent Alumna in Academia. Seibel is the inaugural director of the VALOR Program at Virginia Tech, which is dedicated to fostering leadership and capacity building for Virginia’s largest private industries.

As part of her professional career, she took administrative leave from the university to serve as Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry in the final 16 months of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s administration, where she oversaw industry studies and development of proposed policy for the secretariat, and shared efforts with a multitude of stakeholders. Her background and expertise in health care, career, and technical education, and outreach educational programming invigorate her passion for community development and considering complex issues that incorporate all three of these paradigms. Seibel uses scholarship as a way to bring ideas to life through practical application.

Copenhaver ’12 was named the 2019 Outstanding Recent Undergraduate Alumnus in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He was also the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics’ Outstanding Recent Alumnus in Government or Industry. Upon graduation, Brad accepted a position to work in the Washington, D.C., office of Congressman Morgan Griffith (VA-9th), where he managed correspondence and conducted policy reviews for issues that included agriculture, international affairs, and the environment.

In 2018, Copenhaver was appointed by Gov. Ralph Northam as deputy secretary of agriculture and forestry, where he helps oversee three state agencies and advises the governor and his staff on a variety of issues affecting agriculture and forestry. He is also a leader of the Planning and Development Team for the Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade, which is now in its 12th year and of which the college is a founding participant.

Sutton, vice president of research and development at Smithfield Foods Inc., was named the recipient of the 2019 CALS Honorary Alumni Award. Each year the Alumni Organization recognizes a friend of the college who has exhibited leadership, service, and philanthropic contributions demonstrating Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) to a department, the CALS Alumni Organization, or the college with the Honorary Alumni Award.

Even with attaining such distinguished status at the helm of this comprehensive division within a Fortune 500 company, Sutton has never turned his back on educating the next generation of industry and academic leaders. While he supports a large number of programs across country, his unwavering support has resulted in a huge impact on the educational and discovery outputs of the animal and poultry sciences department and other programs across the college.

Greiner, a professor and Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences, was named the 2019 recipient of the Outstanding Faculty Alumni Engagement Award, which recognizes a College of Agriculture and Life Sciences faculty member who has exhibited outstanding engagement with alumni.

Greiner has achieved national acclaim for his accomplishments in Extension programming leading highly respected beef and sheep Extension programs for the college. His programs serve to educate around 30 Extension agents, nearly 500 producers, and over 200 youth statewide, on an annual basis. The impact of his efforts to livestock revenues alone is worth over $8 million annually to producers in the commonwealth.

Kanefsky ’20 was named the 2019 Outstanding Ambassador for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Each year the college recognizes an outstanding member for his or her leadership and service to the college ambassador program and to the college.

Kanefsky stood out from her peers because of her academic experiences, her self-motivation, and the sheer diversity of her interests and achievements. Her drive to serve others makes her the embodiment of the Virginia Tech motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), and in turn an impeccable College of Agriculture and Life Sciences ambassador.

Visit the college awards page for more information on these prestigious awards and alumni recognized by their departments. A recording of the virtual awards program is also available.

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