Synovus Makes $1 Million Contribution to UNCF, Names Scholarship Fund in Honor of State Representative Calvin Smyre
COLUMBUS, GA, AUG. 4, 2020 — Synovus today announced a $1 million contribution to UNCF (United Negro College Fund) for the establishment of The Synovus/Calvin Smyre Scholarship Fund. The fund will provide scholarships for African American students to attend historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and other institutions of higher education in Synovus’ five-state footprint.
“Our country has been bluntly reminded of the work that remains to ensure equal opportunities and to address persistent racial and educational inequalities,” said Kessel D. Stelling, Synovus chairman and CEO. “Synovus is deeply committed to taking action, and we’re proud to support UNCF and its vital work to close these gaps through education.
“We also couldn’t be more pleased to honor the legacy of our friend Calvin Smyre, who has dedicated his life to public service for the people of Columbus and the entire state of Georgia. Calvin represents the best of the banking industry and Synovus and is the epitome of HBCU excellence.”
One scholarship annually will be designated for a student enrolled at Smyre’s beloved alma mater Fort Valley State University (FVSU), an HBCU in Fort Valley, Georgia, where he serves as Chairman of the FVSU Foundation.
A Columbus native, Smyre represents Columbus-Muscogee County in the Georgia House of Representatives. He was elected in 1974 and, as a 46-year veteran, is the longest-serving member of the Georgia General Assembly. Smyre’s legislative record includes authoring the bill making Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday a state holiday, co-sponsoring the historic legislation creating a new Georgia State Flag, crafting legislation authorizing the HOPE Scholarship Program, and co-sponsoring HB 426, the Georgia Hate Crimes Act, which was recently signed into law.
Smyre joined Synovus in 1976 as a management trainee and retired in 2014 as executive vice president of corporate affairs.
“Synovus is a valued partner of UNCF and this contribution is a powerful validation of our work to support HBCUs and improve the lives of HBCU students,” said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, UNCF’s president and CEO. “It is also a fitting tribute to State Representative Smyre, who has made many invaluable contributions for decades as a public servant and a supporter of both the UNCF and our member HBCUs.”
“This has certainly come full circle for me,” said Representative Smyre. “Everyone who knows me understands my passion for financially assisting students seeking higher education. I have committed my life to pursuing equality and improving the quality of life in Georgia throughout my career in the Georgia House of Representatives and my work on behalf of UNCF. I’m especially proud of my four decades-long association with UNCF to help further its mission of providing access to higher education for African Americans in my hometown of Columbus and across the country. And I am now honored to be the namesake of Synovus’ generous gift and clear commitment to increasing educational opportunities for African Americans across the Southeast. Synovus has long been a special part of my life, and I am both humbled and grateful to be recognized in such a meaningful way.”
Synovus Financial Corp. is a financial services company based in Columbus, Georgia, with approximately $54 billion in assets. Synovus provides commercial and retail banking, investment, and mortgage services through 294 branches in Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Florida, and Tennessee. Synovus Bank, a wholly owned subsidiary of Synovus, has been recognized as one of the country's “Most Reputable Banks” by American Banker and the Reputation Institute. Synovus is on the web at synovus.com, and on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
UNCF (United Negro College Fund) is the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community and the nation, UNCF supports students’ education and development through scholarships and other programs, strengthens its 37 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education and college readiness. UNCF institutions and other historically black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding nearly 20 percent of African American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF awards more than $100 million in scholarships annually and administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized motto, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste, but a wonderful thing to invest in.”® Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at more than 1,100 colleges and universities. Learn more at UNCF.org or for continuous news and updates, follow UNCF on Twitter @UNCF.