Sylvia and Norman Samet
Outstanding Philanthropist - Greensboro
Nominated by UNC Greensboro
Sylvia and Norman “Norm” Samet’s philanthropic contributions and altruism have made an unmistakable impact at UNC Greensboro, in the area’s business, arts, and non-profit communities, and within Greensboro’s Jewish community.
As long-time supporters of UNCG, the Samets served on countless boards and lent their expertise to initiatives which changed the institution for the better. In 1998, they established UNCG’s prestigious Herman and Zelda Bernard Professorship in Jewish Studies, making the principal contribution of $250,000. In making the gift, the Samets were also founding donors of the Henry Samuel Levinson Program Endowment in Jewish Studies, which sponsors a lecture series that invites renowned scholars—regional, national, and international—to share their research with UNCG faculty, students, alumni, and the public.
As co-chairs of UNCG’s Students First Campaign (2004-2009), the Samets led the largest and most transformational campaign in the University’s history, inspiring more than 22,000 donors to exceed the fundraising goal by $37 million. As a result, UNCG acquired funding for 203 new undergraduate scholarships, 42 graduate scholarships, 14 professorships, and 155 program funds and student awards. As their gift to the campaign, the Samets established the Norman G. Samet and Sylvia Lichtin Samet International Education Fund to attract outstanding students to study business in UNCG’s Joseph M. Bryan School of Business and Economics.
As a leader in the Triad business community, Norm Samet served as Chairman of Piedmont Triad Partnership, the High Point Chamber of Commerce, and the Greensboro Area Chamber of Commerce. He also served on the Greensboro Advisory Board of (then) Wachovia Bank & Trust Company, Action Greensboro Core Committee, and as a member of both Greensboro Development Corporation and the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina. In 2013, he received the Greensboro Economic Development Alliance’s Stanley Frank Lifetime Achievement Award, and he received the Triad Business Journal’s inaugural Commercial Real Estate Legacy Award in 2019.
Norm has served on many other community-related boards, including the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro (2005-2010,) the Salvation Army, United Way, the YMCA, Eastern Music Festival, and Triad Stage. He was on the Board of Trustees for Greensboro College from 2002-2008.
Highly visible in the local arts community, Sylvia is an honorary board member of the Eastern Music Festival and a member of the Greensboro Advisory Council of Triad Stage. She has served on the boards of the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra and United Arts Council. She is also Director and Emeritus Lifetime Board Member of the Guilford Technical Community College Foundation, where she and Norm hold the distinction of being Lifetime Members of the Honor Roll of Donors. She has served on the board of United Way of Greater Greensboro and is a member of the Tocqueville Women’s Society of Greensboro. She was also one of the early donors to the Women-to-Women grant-making foundation at the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro.
Sylvia and Norm are prominent members of Greensboro’s vibrant Jewish community. Both have held board positions in the Greensboro Jewish Federation and hosted Leadership Launch events for the organization at their home. They support Beth David Synagogue and are active contributors to the Jewish Foundation of Greensboro, a constituent agency of the Greensboro Jewish Federation, where Sylvia is a Founding Board member. They are honorary board members of North Carolina Hillel.
The Samets’ philanthropy and leadership extends through the Triad with contributions to GTCC, the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, United Way of Greater Greensboro as members of the Tocqueville Society, The Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts, Family Service of the Piedmont, the Eastern Music Festival, and Triad Stage.
Sylvia and Norman Samet model unparalleled generosity and civic responsibility by devoting their good names, personal resources, time, energy, hospitality, and giving spirits to better the quality of life for Greensboro’s citizens.
Pictured (center): Norman and Sylvia Samet are presented with the Outstanding Philanthropist - Greensboro award by UNCG Chancellor Dr. Franklin Gilliam and his wife, Jacquie.
"When I think about 'Why I Give,' I first think about how fortunate I am to have the resources to give. Then I think about three men that set an example for me. One was my father who frequently gave and said, 'I never missed a nickel of what I gave.' One was a friend and mentor, Herman Bernard. When Herman was in a meeting and it was discussed that funds were needed, he was the first to stand up and say to the Board, 'I will give, now you do the same!' The third was also a friend and mentor, Leonard Kaplan, who spent his latter years, not just giving his money to worthy causes, but encouraged others to do the same. He said, 'Give while you are alive and enjoy seeing how it benefits others.' I frequently count my blessings and take pleasure in knowing that I can help someone in need."
- Norman Samet
"We feel so blessed in so many ways, our way of life is to give others less fortunate than we are. Giving gives me a feeling of happiness. It is the greatest act of grace."
- Sylvia Samet