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Leland Best Innovation Fund in Education honors lifelong educator

Lifelong Beaumont public school educator Leland Best will be remembered in perpetuity thanks to the creation of the Leland Best Innovation Fund in Education in Lamar University’s College of Education and Human Development. The endowment was established with a $1 million commitment from the Nancy and Randy Best Foundation in memory of Randy’s mother, Leland Best, who served in Beaumont schools for more than 50 years.

As an English teacher at Beaumont High School, Leland Best shaped the lives of countless community leaders in Beaumont. Through her counsel and teaching, she also helped shape the future of Beaumont by instilling in many of her students a passion to volunteer and serve their community.

The innovation fund may be used by the College of Education and Human Development to support teaching, research, service and professional development activities of faculty, as well as funding for new programs or for enhancement of existing programs. The fund may also be used for undergraduate and graduate student scholarships or to assist with other student activities.

“I am most grateful to Nancy and Randy Best for their generosity,” said Hollis Lowery-Moore, dean of the College of Education and Human Development. “Funds such as this meet a critical need in the College of Education as they allow us to support the research and teaching activities that add excellence to our terrific educational offerings.

These funds also allow the College to provide active and collaborative engagement opportunities between faculty and students to enrich the educational experience of our educators. This is truly a wonderful gift.”

To honor her devotion to her community, to the arts and to her church, the Leland Best Council for the Arts of First United Methodist Church of Beaumont was established in 1985 following her death. Lamar faculty members and student performance groups have participated in the Council for many years in joint productions of concerts and events.

Randy Best discovered his passion for entrepreneurship at Lamar, establishing and building seven businesses prior to his graduation in 1967 with the Bachelor of Science degree in government. His formal education at Lamar and his familial influences served him well in the public sector as the founder of numerous business enterprises. His entrepreneurial prowess led to a new paradigm in higher education delivery which he forged at Lamar University resulting in the vastly successful Academic Partnerships program.

For more information about establishing an endowment, contact the Lamar University Foundation at (409) 880-2117.