President Casteen joins Altria board of directors

Casteen takes position with Richmond-based parent company of wine, tobacco companies; brand names include Marlboro, Skoal

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President John T. Casteen, III has been elected to the board of directors of Altria Group, Inc., a Richmond-based corporation and parent company of tobacco and wine businesses such as Philip Morris USA, U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates.

Altria companies own brands such as Marlboro, Skoal and Black & Mild. Casteen's appointment increases the board's membership from nine to 10 directors.

As a board member, Casteen will be one of the individuals tasked with maintaining the overall well-being of the corporation.

"The Board has responsibility for establishing broad corporate policies, setting strategic direction, and overseeing management, which is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Company," according to the Altria Web site.

Casteen has been familiar with Altria and Mike Szymanczyk, its chairman and chief executive officer, since February 2007, when Philip Morris USA committed $25 million to the University. About $20 million of that gift was donated toward Medical School research and projects, including a smoking cessation program, according to a University press release.

Overall, Casteen has a large amount of respect for Altria's management and the direction the company has taken with Szymanczyk, he said in an e-mail.

"This is a company committed to change and innovation," he said. "It is also a company with deep roots in Virginia. I am honored to join the Altria board and to have the opportunity to become part of the company's future."

Casteen also has served on the corporate boards of organizations such as Connecticut Bank and Trust Company, the American Council on Education and New England Education Loan Marketing Corporation. He also chaired the National Board on Oceans and Atmosphere and is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

In his new position, Casteen will work with another member of the University community. Former Gov. Gerald L. Baliles, director of the Miller Center of Public Affairs, has been a member of Altria's board of directors since 2008.

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