President Casteen joins Altria board of directors

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


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.

Published February 25, 2010 in News

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(02/25/10 3:00pm)

Smoking is a personal choice made by adults who have been more than educated on the health risks by the public. Smoking is a high risk activity, as is acohol abuse, sex with multiple partners, exesive speeding while driving a motor vehicle, and eating chinease food 3 times a week. This is AMERICA, we are free as adults to choose to participate in whatever legal risky behavior we see fit. Altria is not an immoral company, nor is its product, as such Casteen should not at all feel guilty about being on its board. Furthermore, it will provide him with unique insight into a copmany that has very old and deep roots with Virginia and its citizens.

(02/25/10 4:01pm)

MisterJefferson - Despite the law on who can and can't buy cigarettes, study after study shows that most smokers start smoking well before they're 18, get hooked, and can't stop. So no, in most cases it's not a choice made by well-informed adults, especially when the tobacco companies target kids and seek ways to make their cigarettes even more addicting (I highly recommend reading the RJR Reynolds internal memos).

Glen Allen
(02/25/10 7:32pm)

I'd like to thank Dr. Houston for his comments--perhaps some members of the UVA medical community will have the courage to speak up about this travesty. Once again, Dr. Casteen has acted in a manner that is detrimental to the better interests of the University and the public. Living in the Richmond area, I am well accustomed to seeing Altria buy public support by devoting a small portion of its huge profits to various community projects. Getting people like Casteen and former Gov. Baliles to serve on its board is, I presume, another part of this strategy to legitimize its trafficking in disease and death for money. If Casteen is that desperate for cash after so many years as a university president, perhaps he could get his buddies in Blacksburg to take up a collection for him.

Edward Sweda
(02/25/10 7:58pm)

Mr. Casteen says that the company "is committed to change and innovation." But it is, in fact, a company (Philip Morris) that is an adjudicated racketeer. See U.S. v. Philip Morris, USA, Inc., et al., 449 F.Supp.2d 1 (U.S.D.C. D.C. 2006), affirmed in part and vacated in part by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, at 566 F.3d 1095 (U.S.C.A. D.C. 2009). See also

Joseph H Quintano, Ed.D. U.VA. 64 and 74
(02/25/10 8:54pm)

Does the President serve on the board pro bono? If not I wonder what his salary would be for being named to their board? Does he really need the money if hes paid for his service? I would think that the President would have thought better in choosing to serve on the board of a cigerate/tobacco company for all the obvious reasons. The last salary I saw the President gets at UVA was quite high not to mention the housing,etc and other benefits.

Anne Morrow Donley
(02/26/10 2:22am)

In response to other comments, please note former Governor Baliles is no stranger to tobacco industry boards, having worked with Dimon Tobacco, and having refused to consider any no-smoking in public regulations while governor of Virginia, 1986 - Jan. 1990. As to payment of board members, according to annual reports of Philip Morris and Altria, board members, not otherwise working for the company, receive stock plus a yearly salary, $40,000 and up, plus a few thousand for attending each meeting. A lucrative job, built upon the knowing addiction, suffering, and deaths of millions of people and their families. The Philip Morris slogan for years has been, "I came, I saw, I conquered". The UVA President has joined a company which knowingly manufactures weapons of mass destruction. Philip Morris has already given research grants to UVA in the past. How much is a life, or freedom, worth?

Anne Morrow Donley,

Mr. Class of 1996
(02/26/10 3:53am)

Way to go Casteen, very classy...

Makes me wonder what Mr. Jefferson's university might have looked like had it not been presided over by a money-whore for the last 20 years.

(02/28/10 2:07am)

As a southerner, I am sorry to hear this. It just plays into the stereotype of southerners being stupid, and this is the dumbest thing Casteen could do.

(03/01/10 1:39am)

Casteen & co. have been peddling cancer causing steroids and giving UVA students VERY incomplete information about them for 20 years now. So why should it surprise anyone that he's just continuing in getting paid to cause cancer and birth defects? He's been very active in doing both for decades.

Tom Houston, a quick check of your school's online misinformation campaign here

proves that your university is also in on this very lucrative game, the health of young women and their infants be damned. So your outrage at someone going to work for a tobacco company is rather silly. What is it that you are doing about that in your own university medical center? I'm guessing - - - nothing.

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