Best online innovation
An entrepreneur’s entrepreneur, Randy Best‚ ’67 began his business career while a student at Lamar University where he started seven businesses and at one point had 42 other LU students in his employ. Among his ventures were publishing companies and Collegiate Diamond, an endeavor selling engagement rings at a time when “about 28 percent of all college students got engaged or married each year.” At 25, Best sold the company for around $10 million and has gone on to found or acquire more than 100 privately or publicly held companies in a broad range of fields including healthcare, defense and aerospace, publishing, agriculture, food, oil and gas, real estate and education.
When he moved into the second half of his career, Best focused on business initiatives with a social mission that could have an enduring, positive impact. This commitment resulted in a focus on education and in the welfare of children.
Best’s own challenges with dyslexia made him passionate about reading and its critical impact on a student’s education and life. He founded a national initiative that annually helps more than 3 million children, mostly inner-city, learn to read.
In 2005, Best turned to higher education and founded a company to help state universities increase access for underserved high-need populations. Lamar University was the first to partner with Best in delivering two graduate education programs, growing enrollment from 226 to more than 4,100. He also founded an international higher education company focused on bringing a high-quality, low-cost college education to students in the developing countries of Latin America. Today, Academic Partnerships delivers online programs in all 50 states and 37 foreign countries.