May 13, 2008

Moral Forum Named for James P. Hayes Jr.

Synovus Foundation of Columbus, Ga., has made a gift to The University of Alabama to endow a debate program known as the Moral Forum and name it in honor of UA alumnus and long-time supporter James P. “Jim” Hayes Jr.

UA’s Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility established the Moral Forum in 2006 to help UA students develop the skills necessary to evaluate and respond to moral claims and engage in moral discourse. The program offers students the opportunity to research and debate a controversial moral/ethical issue each year, and culminates in a University-wide tournament, where students vie for scholarships as they present their arguments.

Synovus has pledged $300,000 to UA to support the Jim Hayes Moral Forum Endowed Support Fund. Endowment earnings are designated for supplementary financial awards to student debaters and expenses associated with conducting the forum.

“This generous gift will help establish the Moral Forum as a permanent initiative at The University of Alabama,” said Stephen Black, director of the Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility.

Black said naming the forum for Hayes is appropriate. “In everything he does, Jim Hayes demonstrates the qualities of ethical citizenship. He has spent his entire adult life thoughtfully engaged in the public square, helping our state work toward better policy, better government and a better life for all Alabamians," Black said.

“We are very pleased to honor Jim Hayes, a man who totally exemplifies the ideals of the Moral Forum,” said Richard Anthony, chairman and chief executive officer of Synovus Financial Corporation. “Synovus strongly supports the concept of the Moral Forum and believes that addressing and debating moral and ethical issues at the university level will benefit generations of students to come.”

Hayes, president of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, serves on the Board of Advisers for the UA Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility and is a co-chair of the national steering committee for UA’s “Our Students. Our Future.” capital campaign. He is also a long-time member of the UA President’s Cabinet.

Hayes earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in industrial engineering at UA, and was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters in 2004. He has also been recognized as a Distinguished Engineering Fellow and has received UA’s Alumnus of the Year Award and the College of Commerce Achievement in Finance Award.

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