(Fort Valley, Ga.) – Respected statesman, philanthropist, leader, and noted Fort Valley State University alumnus Calvin Smyre will be the commencement speaker for Spring 2022, scheduled for Saturday, May 14, 2022.
Smyre, a 1970 FVSU graduate and native of Columbus, Ga., has lived a life of public service, including as a trustee on FVSU’s Foundation Board. Smyre served as chairman, passionately encouraging others to give and personally contributed $500,000 to ensure academically talented but historically under-resourced students are provided access to the transformative power of higher education.
The former Georgia lawmaker also spent the last 48 years in the Georgia House of Representatives – longer than any other member. His run as a lawmaker recently ended following his appointment as ambassador to the Dominican Republic by President Joe Biden. His confirmation hearing will begin in the near future.
Known for forging bipartisan support on key issues, Smyre was recently honored with his portrait being erected in the State Capitol. As a key advocate for higher education, he is also noted for working tirelessly to secure equity and resources to financially assist students seeking an education at HBCUs.
Over 300 degrees will be awarded at the FVSU spring commencement ceremony, which begins at 9:30 a.m., at Wildcat Stadium, 1005 State University Drive in Fort Valley, GA 31030. Guests are asked to be seated by 9 a.m.
FVSU President Paul Jones applauded Smyre for being an unflinching leader and advocate for those often left without a voice or platform.
“You would be hard-pressed to find a more committed, tireless, distinguished leader than Calvin Smyre,” Jones said. “He epitomizes the values we hold most dear at FVSU.”
Smyre was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1974 as its youngest member at 27 years of age. He subsequently would serve on the most important committees of the House, including Appropriations, House Rules, and Education.
In his professional career, he has worked a path that began as a community organizer and director of the “War on Poverty” program in Columbus, Ga., and is retired from Synovus Bank after having served as President of the Synovus Foundation. The company provides integrated financial services, including banking, financial management, insurance, mortgage and leasing services, and electronic payment processing.
As a former lawmaker, his distinguished legislative records include authoring the legislation making Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a state holiday, and legislation creating the historic Georgia Dome. He was also instrumental and co-sponsored legislation creating a new Georgia State Flag. Smyre served on the FVSU foundation board for over 30 years. He is the past chair of the Fountain City Classic and a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.