The Jason J. LeGrand and Neal E. Boyd Endowment has been established through the Southeast Missouri University Foundation. LeGrand established the award to honor Boyd and celebrate their friendship, and to support character and leadership development for students who are members of their fraternity, Lambda Chi Alpha.
Boyd was a 2001 graduate and well-known performer and recording artist who passed away in June 2018.
LeGrand is a 1997 graduate who has built a career in university development and alumni relations. He currently serves as senior director of Principal Gifts & Strategic Initiatives at the University of California, Berkeley.
LeGrand met Boyd at Southeast in 1994 when Boyd became the “Little Brother” of LeGrand in Lambda Chi Alpha.
“Having Jason as my ‘Big Brother’ basically made us family in my eyes,” Boyd said in a 2010 interview.
At Southeast, the two shared some similar University roles and honors: In their fraternity, both were elected officers, and both were recognized as Alumnus of the Year — LeGrand in 2000 and Boyd in 2003. Boyd was inducted into the fraternity’s Hall of Fame in 2009, followed by LeGrand in 2012. Both served the University as Presidential Ambassadors, on the Interfraternity Council, and both were involved in Student Government — Boyd in elected office as a Senator and then Vice President and President of the Senate, and LeGrand on the All-University Judicial Board. LeGrand moved to Jefferson City, Missouri, for a semester to intern in the Missouri House of Representatives in 1996, and Boyd did the same in 1998. LeGrand was on Homecoming Court as a Man of the Year candidate in 1996, then Boyd in 1998. Both have also received awards from Southeast since graduating, Boyd earning the Distinguished Service Award in 2008, and LeGrand the Young Alumni Merit Award in 2010.
After college, the two celebrated behind the scenes during many of the big moments in Boyd’s career; LeGrand joined him at his New York City concert debut at Carnegie Hall, and for special performances in Washington, D.C. and Jefferson City. He was in Hollywood for eight of Boyd’s 10 “America’s Got Talent” episodes, part of Boyd’s entourage at Christmas at Rockefeller Center, and in the audience during his concerts in Las Vegas.
Boyd grew up in Sikeston, the son of Esther Boyd, and graduated from Sikeston High School in 1994. He earned degrees from Southeast and the University of Missouri before continuing his studies at the New England Conservatory of Music. His career included teaching, public speaking, business and an accomplished music career. His fame in Missouri and the Midwest transformed into worldwide renown when he appeared on “America’s Got Talent,” winning the competition in 2008. After he passed away in 2018, Boyd was memorialized at a service in Academic Hall, where LeGrand made remarks.
LeGrand grew up in Cape Girardeau, the son of Evelyn Harbison LeGrand and Larry LeGrand, and graduated from Cape Central High School in 1992. He earned a degree in Mass Communication, and then became the second of seven Lambda Chis from the Southeast chapter to serve on the international fraternity headquarters staff.
He credits his early experiences at Southeast as the inspiration for his career in university development, particularly working in Admissions and the Office of the President. He started his career in college fundraising in 1999 at Cornell University. He served in roles at the University of Denver, University of Nevada Las Vegas, and University of Maryland College Park, before joining the University of California’s School of Veterinary Medicine in 2016. In his current role at UC Berkeley, he is focused on transformational gifts of $10 million-$100 million. He is a member of the Southeast Missouri University Foundation President’s Council and Horizon Club.
This is the second endowment at Southeast bearing Boyd’s name. The Neal E. Boyd Endowed Scholarship in the Performing Arts was established before Boyd passed away to support students majoring in music, theater, dance or performing arts education.
In the 2010 interview, Boyd said, “Jason and I have a personal mission to see Southeast Missouri State University grow into an even greater institution.”
An inaugural award will be announced during the chapter’s 30th anniversary gala on Oct. 26, 2019, the evening of Southeast’s Homecoming. LeGrand and Boyd attended the fraternity’s 10th anniversary gala in 1999, and the 20th celebration in 2009.
Lambda Chi Alpha, one of the largest men’s general fraternities, colonized at Southeast 30 years ago in 1989. The local chapter has initiated 629 members and ranks as one of the best in North America, receiving its third international award for sustained excellence, the Grand High Alpha Award, earlier this year. Lambda Chi Alpha was the first fraternity to eliminate pledging and remains a leader in the fight against hazing, alcohol abuse, sexual assault and other challenges facing college students.