COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – Synovus announced the creation of a new scholarship fund through a contribution to the United Negro College Fund, creating the Synovus/Calvin Smyre Scholarship Fund.
The scholarship will provide funds for African American students to attend historically Black colleges and universities, as well as other higher education institutions in the Columbus, Ga.-based financial services company’s five-state footprint, according to a public release.
“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.”
The fund is named for state Congressman Calvin Smyre, representing Columbus, Ga. and the 135th District. Smyre has served in office since 1974 and was named to Governor Brian Kemp’s Coronavirus Task Force Community Outreach Committee in April. Smyre also worked at Synovus from 1976 yo 2014 before retiring while executive vice president of corporate affairs.
Each year, the scholarship will also fund one student enrolled at Fort Valley State University in Fort Valley, Ga., Smyre’s alma mater, where he serves as Chaairman of the FVSU Foundation. FVSU is an HBCU.
“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,” said Stelling.
Smyre is the longest-serving member of the Georgia General Assembly, and is known for authoring legislation t hat made Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday a state holiday, as well as laws that authorized the HOPE Scholarship Program, and the recently signed Georgia Hate Crimes Act.
“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.”