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William H. Dial/SunTrust Eminent Scholar Chair of Banking

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William H. Dial pictured with Grace Dial (top)

This fund honors the legendary banking figure William H. Dial of SunBank. After growing up in Gainesville, Dial attended the University of Florida and earned his law degree in 1932. After graduating, Dial worked for an Orlando law firm and once established in Central Florida, he quickly became involved in state and community affairs.

In the late 1950s, after the second-in-command of what was then called the First National Bank of Orlando died in a tragic accident, Dial, who had written the state’s banking laws and had been the bank’s legal council for many years, was asked to fill the position. He accepted, ending a successful law career to begin an equally impressive career in banking. Dial’s influence at First National resulted in the company buying up smaller banks around Florida, eventually transforming itself into the much larger and successful SunBank (now SunTrust Bank).

Dial is perhaps best known for bringing I-4 through downtown Orlando, in opposition to original plans which called for the new interstate to bypass the metropolitan area completely. The location of I-4 was one of the biggest factors that persuaded Walt Disney to build his new theme park in the area.

William and Grace Dial and their daughters, Patricia Dial Vig and Joan D. Ruffier, have been dedicated to enhancing the educational and economic well-being of Florida. Ruffier earned her bachelor’s degree from UF in 1961. In honor of the Dials’ generosity to the university, the UF Center for Written and Oral Communication was renamed “The William and Grace Dial Center for Written and Oral Communication.” William Dial passed away in 1999.

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