Larry Chavis’ career in the banking industry spans nearly five decades.
He has spent the majority of his 47-year career steering the success of Lumbee Guaranty Bank as president and CEO. A trailblazer and prominent member of the banking community, Chavis is highly regarded across the region and state.
Chavis credits his accomplishments to the strong foundation in education he received at UNC Pembroke. To pay homage to his alma mater, he and his wife, Loleta, pledged a generous gift to the future School of Business building which will name the main foyer in honor of the Lumberton couple.
“We wanted to do something to give back to the school that has been so beneficial to my career. It has touched so many lives, including my family and me. My mom and dad graduated from there. I graduated from there. My children, Melissa and Alex, attended UNCP,” Chavis said.
“This university has meant so much to our community and the entire region. My wife and I wanted to give back because of everything UNCP has given to us and our community.”
The university, in April, broke ground on the $37.5 million, state-of-the art facility that will house UNCP’s accredited School of Business. The building is designed to provide students access to a cutting-edge learning environment for generations to come.
“The setting in which we educate today’s student has changed. It is technology based and promotes a more collaborative approach between faculty and students, and even among the students themselves,” said Dr. Barry O’Brien, dean of the School of Business.
In addition to 14 classrooms, the building will include a career services center, a 300-seat auditorium, an interactive market-style trading room, a video conference room, computer lab, small and large group discussion areas, food court and a multimedia resource room.
The future facility will face Prospect Road between Sampson Hall and Dial Humanities Building. The university anticipates the building will be occupied in fall 2021.
A Rowland native, Chavis served two years in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War before returning home to earn a degree in accounting from what was then known as Pembroke State University in 1972. He got his start with Southern National Bank that same year, eventually working his way up to vice president of the accounting department. He would go on to earn an MBA from Campbell University.
His career with Lumbee Guaranty Bank, the first Native American owned bank in the United States, began in 1987, when he was named president and CEO. He has remained at the helm throughout his tenure. Today, he serves as chairman of the board of Lumbee Guaranty Bank. Under his leadership, Lumbee Bank has expanded to 13 branches and more than 100 employees. Its assets have grown from $11 million in 1987 to $325 million and more than 1,700 stockholders today.
Chavis is active in his community and continues to give his time to numerous civic organizations and state boards, including the Southeastern Health Board of Trustees, North Carolina Banking Commission, Duke Heart Center and Cape Fear Council of Boys Scouts to name a few.
He has served UNCP in many capacities, including the Foundation Board, Endowment Board and advisory boards for the Thomas Entrepreneurship Hub School of Business. His alma mater has honored him in the past with the Business Person of the Year and Distinguished Alumni awards.
The Chavis’ have supported many causes over the years, including organizations that benefit higher education. His parents, the late Agnes and George Chavis, were longtime educators and among the first graduates from Pembroke State College in the 1940s. George Chavis was a member of the first football team. Agnes, who passed away in May at the age of 92, taught school for more than 40 years.
“They encouraged me,” he said. “And with this new School of Business, it is going to make our way of life so much easier for the future generations. A lot of the time I think had our university not been here, a lot of us may not have been exposed to those opportunities.
“(UNCP) has been beneficial, so it’s fitting to support it. For me, being a part of the business community and earning a degree from there, it is kind of fitting to be a part of this project.”
“UNC Pembroke is deeply honored, grateful and indebted to Larry and Loleta for their generous gift,” said UNCP Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings.
“They have been pillars in this community throughout their lives and through this contribution, their influence will continue. The students of our university will benefit greatly because of their generosity and vision. It is because of donors like Larry and Loleta that UNCP will move into the future with a solid foundation.”
Chavis says the new School of Business building will serve as a recruitment tool to help position UNCP as the institution of choice for students in southeastern North Carolina.
“All these opportunities increase the values and benefits of our current and future graduates and their careers,” he said. “It increases the possibilities of what they can achieve which further helps our region. It will make UNCP that much more attractive and more appealing to students, as well as the quality of professorships.”