Jarvis medal awarded to Dr. Andrew Best
(May 4, 2006)
East Carolina University will award the Jarvis Medal, its highest service honor, to Dr. Andrew Best, a pioneering Greenville physician, at the university’s spring commencement Saturday.
Best, who died in December, practiced in Greenville from 1954 to 2004 and served in a variety of leadership roles in the city and state. He was the first African-American member of the ECU board of trustees and one of the first African-Americans to serve on the University of North Carolina Board of Governors.
Chancellor Steve Ballard said: “Dr. Andrew Best was a true leader in countless ways. He was vitally important to many individuals and many institutions, and we are proud to recognize his life with the Jarvis Medal.” The award will be presented at the 2 p.m. commencement Saturday at Minges Coliseum.
Best was a staunch advocate for the creation of the medical school at ECU, and, working with the late Chancellor Leo Jenkins, helped develop a plan for the peaceful and successful integration of the university by African-American students. With his colleague, Dr. Malene Irons, he helped change what were at the time racially discriminatory practices at Pitt County Hospital.
Best was a founding member of the Pitt County Interracial Committee, now called the Greenville Human Relations Council. The council named its annual humanitarian award in honor of Best and Irons.
The Jarvis Medal, created in 2002 to recognize extraordinary service to the university or to society, is awarded occasionally by the ECU board of trustees. Previous recipients are Jarvis, who is considered the father of ECU; Robert Wright, the university’s first president; Jenkins; and former Sen. Robert Morgan.
Dr. Julius Mallette will accept the award on behalf of the Best family.