Alabama Academy of Honor


Donald James

The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in 2009.



For the past twelve years, Donald M. James has served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Vulcan Materials Company, the nationís largest producer of construction aggregates, a major producer of asphalt mix and concrete, and a leading producer of cement in Florida.

James was born on January 20, 1949, in Russellville, Alabama, to Clarence W. James and Grace Massey James. After graduating from Russellville High School, he attended the University of Alabama, where he earned B.S. and M.B.A. degrees in 1971 and 1973. From 1972 to 1974, he served as 1st Lieutenant and Aide-de-Camp to the Commanding General, U. S. Army Finance Center. He received his Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia Law School in 1977, where he was Executive Editor of the Virginia Law Review and earned membership in the Order of the Coif (top 10% of his graduating class).

Upon his graduation from law school, James joined the law firm of Bradley Arant Rose & White as an Associate. He became a Partner in 1982 and served in various capacities within the firm before joining Vulcan Materials Company in 1992 as Senior Vice President and General Counsel. After serving in interim positions at Vulcan, he assumed the position of Chairman and Chief Executive Officer in 1997, the position he continues to hold.

An active and energetic leader within the industry, the community, and beyond, he serves on numerous boards, including Vulcan Materials Company; Southern Company; Wells Fargo & Company; U. S. Chamber of Commerce; National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (past Chairman); Birmingham Business Alliance; Economic Development Partnership of Alabama; Region 2020; Birmingham Museum of Art (past Chairman); Hugh Kaul Foundation; University of Alabama Health Services Foundation; UAB Health System; Birmingham-Southern College; Childrenís Hospital; and Boy Scouts of Central Alabama. He is a member of the Presidentís Cabinet at the University of Alabama, the Presidentís Advisory Council at UAB, and the Business Advisory Council at the University of Virginia School of Law.

His remarkable achievements, outstanding leadership, and dedicated commitment to community service have resulted in numerous awards and honors, one of the most recent being the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship.

James and his wife Anna, who met at the University of Alabama and were married in 1973, have three children Ė Virginia Grace James Cohen, Clarence W. James, II, and Mary Julia James Abel.