History of LEF

A  Brief History of the Lambda Alpha International

Land Economics Foundation

The land economics foundation of LAI was founded as a 501 3c not for profit by LAI in the 1960’s to provide a vehicle to facilitate research into issues and questions of land economics that the organizations members believed to be of interest to furthering the mission of LAI.  LEF was and continues to be viewed as a resource to identify, fund and disseminate such research.

The early years of the organization are somewhat in the shadows.  A list of officers and projects resulting from LEF actions might be found in the LAI archives maintained at the Cornell University Library, but no inquiry to test this presumption has been implemented.

Prior to 1992 or thereabouts the Foundation maintained a limited funding corpus, the source of which was apparently LAI International, Chapter and. member contributions. In 1992 the funds of LEF totaled approximately $65,000 of which $7,000 was contained in the Stuart A. Mott segregated fund, the use of which could not be comingled with the LEF general fund.  The only use of LEF funds at that time appeared to be the funding of award plaques provided by LAI to members honored by the organization

About 1992 the International Board of LAI acting as the Board of LEF determined that it was time to place LEF into a more activist mode.  Rod Engelen of Ely Chapter was elected president for the purpose of enlivening LEF. Leslie S Pollock also of Ely chapter was elected vice present to assist Rod.  Together they organized a fund raising campaign entitled Project ’96 with the goal of raising the corpus of the foundation to $250,000 by 1996, and formulating a program to attract interest in proposing research to be funded by LEF

Rod resigned the presidency in 1994 and Les was elected its president, a position which he held through 1997.   During that time LEF increased its funding base, but failed to meet its funding goal.  A decision was taken during this period to limit expenditures by the foundation to help build its corpus to a level that could begin to meet is objectives. Funding of award plaques for LAI award winners was discontinued.

Seeking to increase the financial base of LEF, LAI agreed to introduce a $25 contribution line on its dues invoices sent to LAI members. Members were supportive of this request, and over the years the LEF corpus has continued to grow. It’s current balance is in excess of one half million US dollars.   Up through 1997 all chapters of LAI were considered to be beneficiaries of LAI and funds were accepted from chapters and members regardless of nationality. However at that time concern was shown by the Canadian Chapters and the London Chapter that their members could not take tax advantage of a US chartered fund. In the case of the London Chapter concern was shown that such a fund might be considered illegal in the UK.

As a result a Canadian LEF was established to serve Canadian Chapters and members. However this fund was dissolved a few years later given the findings that the small amount that could be anticipated would not meet organizational goals.

During the period 1997-2004 LEF, with its growth in resources and the incorporation of the Mott fund into the General corpus, LEF did begin to make a number of very limited awards.  In 2004 interest was shown by LAI members to further reinvigorate the foundation. This saw the establishment of a more activist board and increased funding commitments achieved through a formalized RFP process.  In 2005 Ron Buss was asked by Larry Lund (LAI President) to oversee LEF.   Up to the point the majority of funding involved scholarship grants.

During 2005 the By-Laws were rewritten to encourage funding real estate research projects, typically on a collaborative basis with other non-profit real estate based entities.  A formal Grant Application was created to define the funding request and the end results.  The application includes total budget, other non-profit participants and the role of academia, if at all.

While additional projects have received preliminary approval for funding (San Francisco/New Mexico/Toronto), the request for collaborative participants has voided several from coming to fruition.  Nevertheless, as a result of these revised objectives, LEF has moved from an idea to a force in supporting land economics research.  To date the organization has funded the sixteen projects including supporting the research and publication of books and monographs.  Each of the them have a “shelf life” beyond the initial publication, they are typically available on-line or in video format to other real estate associations as well as educational institutions.