Auburn Research and Technology Foundation

Board of Directors

James H. Sanford, Chairman, is chairman of the board of HOME Place Farms, Inc. and is a fourth-generation cotton producer whose great-grandparents began operations of a cotton farm in 1881. Sanford received a BS in business administration in 1968 and an MS in economics in 1971 from Auburn University. He is affiliated with many organizations, including the Prattville Area Chamber of Commerce, Autauga County United Way and various advisory boards with Auburn University.

Christopher B. Roberts, PhD, is the dean of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering at Auburn University and is responsible for the overall direction, scope, and mission of the college. Dr. Roberts is the former department chair and the George E. and Dorothy Stafford Uthlaut Professor of Chemical Engineering.

Roberts began his career at Auburn in 1994 as an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and became department chair in 2003. He earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the University of Missouri and a master's degree and doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of Notre Dame.

Bill Ham Jr., Secretary, was elected to the Auburn City Council in 1986 and has served as the city of Auburn’s mayor since 1998. Mayor Ham, an Auburn native and a 1977 graduate of Auburn University, is the owner of Varsity Enterprises, Inc. and serves on numerous community boards, including serving as chair of the Auburn Airport Advisory Board.

Bill Hardgrave, PhD, is Dean and Wells Fargo Professor in the College of Business, Auburn University. Prior to joining Auburn University in August 2010, Dr. Hardgrave was the Edwin & Karlee Bradberry Chair in Information Systems in the Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas. At Arkansas, he also founded and served as executive director of the Information Technology Research Institute and the RFID Research Center. He received his PhD from Oklahoma State University.

John M. Mason, PhD, Vice President for Research and Economic Development, is the vice president for research and associate provost at Auburn University and serves as the president of the Auburn Research and Technology Foundation. He was previously the associate dean for Graduate Studies, Research, and Outreach in the College of Engineering at Penn State University where he received his BS degree in transportation. He was a tenured professor of civil engineering, director of the Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute, and the executive director for the Mid-Atlantic University Transportation Center. He received his MS degree in transportation engineering from Villanova University and PhD in civil engineering from Texas A & M University.

Jim Odom is a consultant for Science Applications International Corporation. He began his career in the launch vehicle business with the Huntsville/von Braun Team, transitioning with this team to become NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. His many responsibilities at NASA included the Saturn, Apollo, Shuttle, and Hubble Space Telescope programs. He retired from NASA in 1989 and has remained active in space research.

David R. Thrasher, MD, is a pulmonary and critical care physician in Montgomery, Ala. He received his MD from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He has been involved with several early stage companies that eventually went public and sits on a venture capital board in Atlanta. He is also on numerous civic, as well as business boards and serves on the Judicial Inquiry Commission.

Robert W. Dumas, is President and CEO of AuburnBank, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Auburn National Bancorporation, Inc. He joined the bank in 1984, began serving as a Director of the bank in 1997, and was elected President and CEO in 2001. He is an Auburn native and a 1976 graduate of Auburn University with a BS in Business Administration. He has served on numerous community boards and currently serves as an Auburn University Trustee representing the Third District-Lee County, AL. He is also a board member for East Alabama Medical Center and the Alabama Bankers Association.

John G. Rocovich, Jr. JD, LLM is the founder of the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) and Chairman of the Board of Directors. Mr. Rocovich is an attorney and Chairman of the law firm Moss & Rocovich Attorneys-at-Law, P.C. in Roanoke. Mr. Rocovich has dedicated himself to his alma mater, Virginia Tech, and has held countless offices to assist in the enhancement of that university. Additional campuses have been built in Spartanburg, South Carolina near Wofford College and in the Auburn Research Park on the campus of Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama.

Mr. Rocovich is a graduate of Virginia Polytech Institute and State University (B.S., with honors, 1966); University of Richmond (J.D. 1967); New York University (LL.M. in Taxation, 1968); Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (Doctor of Humanities and Letters, 2007); North Green University (Doctor of Christian Leadership, 2012). He is a member of the Roanoke Bar Association and Virginia Bar Association (Member, Section on: Taxation); Virginia State Bar (Chairman Tax Section, 1977 – 1978); The District of Columbia Bar; and the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association.

Larry Fillmer, Interim Executive Director is the Executive Director of the Auburn University Research – Office of External Engagement and Support. In December 2015, he was given the additional responsibility as Interim Executive Director of the Auburn Research Park and the Auburn Research and Technology Foundation (ARTF). He serves as liaison between Auburn University Research and organizations, both internal and external, on matters relating to coordination, promotion and financial support of the university’s strategic research economic development initiatives. Mr. Fillmer graduated with High Honors from Auburn University, where he was named the 1969 Outstanding Graduate of the School of Business. He also holds a Master’s Degree in Industrial Management from the University of Alabama.

Auburn Research & Technology Foundation