Businessman, philanthropist, and statesman Nicholas Frank Taubman will deliver the keynote address at Virginia Tech's 2009 Graduate Commencement ceremony on Friday, May 15, at 3 p.m. at Cassell Coliseum.

Approximately 1,000 Virginia Tech graduate and professional students are expected to complete their degree requirements and participate in commencement ceremonies

Taubman and his wife, Jenny, are the largest donors to the new Taubman Museum of Art in downtown Roanoke, which was named in their honor.

Taubman is a native Roanoker and the retired chairman and chief executive officer of Advance Auto Parts, founded by his father in 1932 and the only Fortune 500 business located in the Roanoke Valley. He also serves as president of Mozart Investments in Roanoke.

He was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Romania, where he worked to bring new industry to Romania and improve health care. He also helped bring a NATO summit to Romania, which involved a three-day visit by President George W. Bush. Before leaving the country in December 2008, he was awarded its highest civilian honor, the Star of Romania, by Romanian President Traian Basescu who praised Taubman for helping strengthen defense, economic, and cultural ties between Romania and America.

He has served on numerous other regional, national, and international boards including the Roanoke City Council from 1976 to 1978. He was elected to the board of trustees for the Virginia Historical Society, to which he has donated to capital and program initiatives. He has served as a director of the Shenandoah Life Insurance Company and served for four years as president of the Board of Regents of Mercersburg Academy, his preparatory school.

He received the Distinguished Service Award from the Roanoke Jaycees in 1978, and was awarded the Brotherhood Citation from the National Conference of Christians and Jews in 1981.

Other directorships in which he served include the Virginia College Fund in Richmond; Roanoke Valley Industries and the Roanoke Merchants Association; Roanoke Symphony Orchestra; the Alliance Tire and Rubber Company in Hadera, Israel; and president and director of the Roanoke Valley Chamber of Commerce. He was also a trustee of Burrell Memorial Hospital and of Hollins University. He was director president of the Automotive Associates, Rochester, N.Y., and president of the Automotive Executive Association.

He is a graduate of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in economics. He received an honorary degree from Hollins University in 2005.

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