The work of philanthropist Fred Beazley still fuels educational excellence through Regent partnership
At the age of 14, Fred Beazley was expelled from public school in Portsmouth, Va., for being “a disruptive influence.” His parents arranged for him to attend St. Paul’s Catholic School. There, a priest named Father Fabian took him under his wing and provided encouragement that changed the course of Beazley’s life.
Two years later, when Fabian transitioned to another school, Beazley made a bold move too. Dropping out of school, he borrowed $40 to buy a mule and cart, and started a business selling coal and oil from door to door. Soon this industrious entrepreneur purchased an ice plant, and within a few years he was selling ice throughout the southeastern United States.
Beazley’s business dealings regularly put him in contact with influential, well-educated people, which underscored his lack of education. An optimistic and generous Beazley determined that no young person worthy of an opportunity for higher education should have to do without. Using profits from his business, the Beazley Foundation was born.
“The Beazley Foundation was established to provide the greatest good for the greatest number of people,” says the organization’s current president and CEO, Judge Richard Bray.
“Our association with Regent University was developed through a relationship between Mr. Beazley and Senator A. Willis Robertson, the father of Regent founder, Dr. Pat Robertson,” Bray explains. “When Dr. Robertson came to the Tidewater area, Mr. Beazley became an early supporter of CBN.”
“In the early days of the CBN ministry, I served as interim pastor of Parkview Baptist Church,” Robertson remembers. “One of the members was Mr. Fred Beazley, a successful businessman and noted philanthropist. Mr. Beazley heard about what I was undertaking and graciously offered to supply me a small stipend and a house to live in until I could get CBN started.
“We became good friends, and I remember his wonderful statement, ‘I’m willing to give away everything I have, but I won’t waste a dime.’
“After he passed away, I wanted to honor him. I arranged a gift of $1 million from CBN to Regent to establish a program of scholarships for people in the Tidewater area who wanted a quality education at Regent University,” Robertson says.
Bray explains that the Beazley Foundation views Regent as a valuable resource for the region: “This is not only true in the fields of education and theology, but also as a powerful economic engine. Many professionals have found their beginnings at Regent, and they have gone on to successful careers. Regent has produced outstanding graduates in all fields, including fine lawyers, judges and a former governor.”
Bray considers the foundation’s higher education initiative the most significant project undertaken in cooperation with Regent.
“We commissioned the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) in Washington, D.C., to do an assessment of colleges and universities in Virginia. We asked ACTA to report on what is being taught so we could determine intelligently who deserved the money,” Bray explains.
“We told these universities that Beazley would be interested in helping them to strengthen their core curriculum through hiring new faculty members. Regent University was the first to contact us, and we approved a significant grant to strengthen their faculty.”
As a result, ACTA named Regent as the first university in Virginia with an “A” rating, having six of the seven identified core curriculum courses. Regent is also recognized as one of only 22 universities in the United States to receive this “A” rating by ACTA.
In addition to the ACTA initiative, the Beazley Foundation has provided thousands of dollars in scholarships to Regent students over the years. They have also given grants for capital improvements to the campus, including funds toward the recent building of the chapel.
“The Beazley Foundation has continued the work begun by Fred Beazley and his family,” Robertson says. “It is a joy for me to see that the foundation has reached out a benevolent arm toward Regent University to help us in our mission of training Christian leaders to change the world.”
“We are a very relational foundation,” says Bray. “We value the close relationships we have with the administration and faculty at Regent University and look forward to working together in the future.”