Florida State University’s College of Business has announced a $2-million grant from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation to establish the Gene Taylor/Bank of America Center for Banking and Financial Studies. Housed in the college’s Department of Finance, the center will be used to encourage excellence in education, and fund research and service activities related to banking and finance.
Caryn L. Beck-Dudley, dean of the College of Business, and FSU President T.K. Wetherell were joined by Gene Taylor, the center’s namesake, recently retired vice chairman of Bank of America and president of Global Corporate & Investment Banking; Susan Walker, Florida president for Bank of America; and Alex Sink, chief financial officer for the State of Florida, during the announcement.
"This grant will allow us to hire and retain high-profile, high-quality faculty," Beck-Dudley said. "We will be able to bring more visiting financial experts to campus and provide faculty and students state-of-the-art research tools, such as access to valuable industry databases."
Taylor, a Florida native who obtained his bachelor’s degree in finance from the FSU College of Business, retired from Bank of America in December 2007 after a distinguished 38-year banking career. He held a number of leadership positions with Bank of America, culminating as vice chairman and president of Global Corporate & Investment Banking. He served as Florida president for NCNB, predecessor to Bank of America, from 1990 to 1993, and served as president again after the NationsBank and Barnett Bank merger in 1997.
"This grant is a fitting way to honor Gene’s leadership and legacy of service to our state, Bank of America and his alma mater, which has helped to develop so many of our company’s current and future leaders," said Bank of America’s Walker. "We thank Gene for all his hard work on behalf of the customers and associates he has served throughout his career."
During the event, Taylor reflected on his career and thanked the bank and FSU. "When I left Florida State in 1969 to begin with NCNB, I could never have imagined how far this journey would take me," he said. "It is a wonderful thing for my family and me—and a tribute to all those associates who helped me along the way—to have it end right where it began. I am honored and humbled to be part of the enduring link between Bank of America and this outstanding university."
The Bank of America Charitable Foundation has been a longtime supporter of the College of Business, providing more than $2 million in direct grants and matching gifts that have grown into nearly $5 million in various endowments over the past several years. The funds support the Bank of America Eminent Scholar Chair, two professorships, a new internship initiative and other continuous improvement projects. The new $2-million grant will be in line to be matched by state funds.
"We thank Bank of America for this grant and their continued support of our students and faculty," Wetherell said. "This goodwill helps advance Florida State University’s reputation as one of the nation’s top public graduate research institutions."
The Gene Taylor/Bank of America Center for Banking and Financial Studies will serve as a liaison between the academic community, the banking and finance industry and the public. Specifically, the center will provide:
- Faculty support—Salary enhancements, such as professorships, will provide faculty with additional resources to generate more research.
- Student support—Graduate student stipends will be bolstered to retain and attract the best students.
- Competitive research grants—More resources will allow faculty to focus fully on research during the summer that will appeal to the most prestigious finance journals. This also will provide students with more research opportunities.
- Databases—Finance research typically focuses on empirical studies of market data related to investments and corporations, but these databases are costly. FSU wants to increase its database offerings for faculty research and classroom teaching.
More FSU students choose finance as a first or second major than any other degree program on campus. The finance department also offers a finance track to the students pursuing a Master of Business Administration degree, and faculty also teach courses for master’s students in accounting and risk management and insurance. Finance faculty members James Ang, Bong-Soo Lee and David Peterson are ranked in the Top 20 in research production worldwide. Faculty consistently are invited to present their research at the most prestigious international conferences. The department also has won more university and college teaching awards than other departments.
"This is an exciting development for the FSU College of Business and a true demonstration of the importance of public-private partnerships," Sink said. "Contributions from corporations like Bank of America help our state universities attract top students and faculty, particularly in the fields of finance and banking."
Building on a long-standing tradition of investing in the communities it serves, Bank of America is in its fourth year of achieving an unprecedented 10-year goal to donate $1.5 billion to nonprofit organizations engaged in improving the health and vitality of their neighborhoods. Funded by Bank of America, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation will give more than $225 million in 2008, making the bank the most generous financial institution in the world and the second largest donor of all U.S. corporations in cash contributions. Bank of America approaches giving through a national strategy called "neighborhood excellence," under which it works with local leaders to identify and meet the most pressing needs of individual communities. Through Team Bank of America, bank associate volunteers contributed more than 650,000 hours in 2007 to enhance the quality of life in their communities nationwide. For more information about Bank of America Corporate Philanthropy, visit www.bankofamerica.com/foundation.
Founded in 1950, the FSU College of Business is one of the nation’s youngest business schools, yet it has become one of the 10 largest in the United States. It is the second largest academic unit on FSU’s campus, with an enrollment of 6,359 students, and boasts a distinguished full-time faculty of 114, including one Francis Eppes professor, five eminent scholar chairs, three university-named professorships and 22 endowed professorships. For more information about the college, visit www.cob.fsu.edu.