|Lynchburg Baptist College
Liberty Baptist College
|Affiliation||Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia|
|Chancellor||Jerry Falwell, Jr.|
|Undergraduates||13,800 and 100,000+ online|
|Location||Lynchburg, Virginia, USA|
|Colors||navy, white, and red
|Affiliations||Big South Conference|
Liberty University is a private, non-profit Christian university located in Lynchburg, Virginia, United States, that describes itself as a Christian academic community. Liberty's annual enrollment includes 13,800 residential students and over 100,000 online students as of May 2013. When including the number of people taking its online courses, LU is the largest Evangelical Christian university in the world, the nation's largest private non-profit university and 7th largest four-year university, and the largest university in Virginia.
- 1 History
- 2 Campus
- 3 Academics
- 4 Student life
- 5 Finances
- 6 Controversy
- 7 Notable alumni and associates
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The university was founded as Lynchburg Baptist College in 1971 by Jerry Falwell, who was also Senior Pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church. The name was changed to Liberty Baptist College in 1976 before settling on its current name, Liberty University, in 1984, when it obtained university status.
Liberty University describes itself as a Christian academic community. Its stated mission and aims emphasize both the intellectual and spiritual development of the institution's students. Students are held to The Liberty Way, a code of conduct.
Main, East and North campuses
Liberty University's Campus East housing complex consists of 30 multi-story apartment style dormitories, the last six of which were completed in 2007. Rooms in these dormitories have their own kitchens, living room and private baths. A clubhouse offers a swimming pool, billiards room, and a private theater. A tunnel connecting the east and west ends of the campus was completed in 2004. A second tunnel was completed in May 2014, and provides pedestrian passage under the Norfolk Southern Railway and access to nearby shopping opportunities. In addition, a campus bus/shuttle system was added in the fall of 2006, providing transportation both on and off campus until midnight most evenings.
The 90,000-square-foot (8,400 m2) LaHaye Student Center, has a lounge, basketball courts, cardio and weight rooms, cafe, multi-purpose rooms, aerobic rooms and other amenities. The adjacent Tilley Center has TV lounges, game tables, pool room, and social areas, as well as a stage for student performances, bands and small concerts. Other projects include a 60-mile (97 km) mountain bike trail system, a motorcross facility, paintball fields, 3D archery range, intramural sports program and club sports, including lacrosse and ice hockey, which plays in an ice rink donated by Drs. Tim and Beverly LaHaye, and a new indoor soccer facility.
During the spring of 2007, a secondary practice facility for the Liberty volleyball program was opened as part of a new, on-campus training complex. The existing $750,000 facility on Campus East houses the volleyball coaches’ offices and a team room, and serves as the team’s practice facility whenever the Vines Center and Schilling Center are unavailable.
Construction was completed in August 2009 on the Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre, a synthetic ski slope featuring Snowflex; the Centre was designed by England’s Briton Engineering. It includes beginner, intermediate and advanced slopes, and is the first of its kind in the United States.
On September 24, 2010, Liberty opened the new Tower Theater, with seating for up to 640 people. For the 2010-11 theater season, the Theater Department opened with Hairspray, and closed in Spring 2011 with The Phantom of the Opera. The theatre includes balcony seating, an orchestra pit, catwalks, a fly tower, a box office and 12,000 square feet (1,100 m2) of support area. The tower was originally part of a cell phone plant. BCWH Architects, which designed the adaptation of the tower as a theatre, won first place at the ASID's annual IDEAs for the Contract Institutional Category.
In August 2011, Liberty announced a 120 million dollar campus expansion. The expansion includes more dorms, greener space, and more academic buildings allowing the campus to hold 20,000 resident students.
In January 2012, Liberty University's Department of Theatre Arts announced the formation of a professional theater company to occupy the Tower Theater. The Alluvion Stage Company will hire professional actors to perform alongside the students, and the sets and costumes will meet professional standards. Department Chair Linda Nell Cooper said about the new company: "Alluvion, meaning overflow, will aim to enrich, educate and entertain the community by providing a superior theater experience in a wholesome family environment."
Liberty University is scheduled to open a new Observatory Center in the Spring of 2013 next to Liberty's Equestrian Center. Lee Beaumont, Vice President of Auxiliary Services, says this dome will be a classroom that can fit up to 20 people. It will house a 20-inch (510 mm) RC Optical Systems Truss Ritchey-Chrétien high-quality research telescope and several Celestron CPC 800 8-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes that will be on pedestal, able to roll out under a roof. Astronomy Professor Van Eaton says new observatory serves three purposes: instruction, public nights and research. Student Activities will control the use of the observatory, and all students are welcome to use this building.
Libraries & Museums
Integrated Learning Resource Center
The Integrated Learning Resource Center (ILRC) has three components: the Curriculum Library, Computer Labs, and Media Services. The library contains the following: around 250,000 paper volumes, over 150,000 e-books, more than 97,000 unique electronic and print periodical titles, and more than 200 electronic databases. Students have access to the ILRC. Freshmen have a mandatory session in the Curriculum Library to assess basic research skills. Education students can make use of textbooks and teaching material. DVDs, CDs, and videos are available for audio visual use. Sixteen classroom labs contain more than 470 computers, with more than 350 computers in open spaces, and over 250 computers throughout the campus. All of these computers have a high-speed internet connection. Specific tutor sessions are available and posted at the ILRC. Media Services includes classroom technical support, Smart Board support, basic video duplication, and equipment for classroom projects.
Liberty University students are provided academic counseling and support services through the Center for Academic Support and Advising Services (CASAS). CASAS contains new student orientation support, professional academic advising, continuing education counseling, tutoring and testing services, and career placement services. A component of CASAS is the Bruckner Learning Center, which seeks to "provide University-wide academic support services for all students and faculty in general and special needs students in particular". The Bruckner Learning Center offers courses in transitioning from high school to college, college learning strategies, advanced reading and vocabulary development, and developmental math to help students succeed in the college environment. Additionally, in 2010, Liberty University opened the Osborne Assistive Learning Technology Center in the A. Pierre Guillermin Library, which is a learning and testing center for special needs students. The lab works in with the Bruckner Learning Center and contains assistive software, such as text-to-speech and speech-to-text programs for visually impaired or reading disabled students.
Jerry Falwell Library
In January 2014, Liberty University opened the new Jerry Falwell Library. The four-story, 170,000-square-foot building is located behind the Vines Center. The library features a robot-assisted storage and retrieval system for over 250,000 archived items, with room for another 170,000. The robot locates requested items within a large storage room and delivers the items to the front desk. There are also 150 public computers throughout the building for electronic archive research. The library features group study rooms, writable walls, balconies, terraces and a vegetative roof. The entrance to the library is highlighted by a 24 ft media wall powered by three Microsoft Kinect units and integrated using a custom program. The media wall uses motion-sensor technology to enable visitors to scroll through university news, browse pictures contributed from students and learn about upcoming university events. The $50 million library is part of a larger $500 million building and expansion plan announced by Liberty University.
National Civil War Chaplains Museum
The National Civil War Chaplains Museum contains exhibits of clergy members and religious activity during the Civil War era. It is the only museum in the nation devoted to this purpose. The mission of the museum is to “educate the public about the role of chaplains, priests, and rabbis and religious organizations in the Civil War; to promote the continuing study of the many methods of dissemination of religious doctrine and moral teachings during the War; to preserve religious artifacts, and to present interpretive programs that show the influence of religion on the lives of political and military personnel.” A 501(c)(3) organization, the museum rents space from Liberty University’s DeMoss Center. It has 10,000 square feet, with a 50-seat video theatre, archive displays, a research library, and book store.
The museum features Catholic, Protestant, Jewish chaplains (including African American chaplains), publications, and artifacts from both the Union and Confederate militaries. There are several areas in the museum that are given special attention including:
- The role of the United States Christian Commission, which is the forerunner to today’s USO and Red Cross.
- “The relationship of religion to political and military leaders, common soldiers, and the public in the North and South.”
Two new exhibits have been added to the museum as of 2012: "a “mourning room” with period furniture and decorations (including a cross formed from the woven hair of dead Confederate soldiers), and an exhibit on Civil War sharpshooters featuring Rev. Lorenzo Barbour, chaplain to the Confederate Berdan’s Sharpshooters."
In September 2012, Liberty University hosted the 16th annual Civil War Seminar. Titled "1862-The Rise of Lee and Grant", the seminar featured presentations on many different Civil War issues, highlighted by lectures on Grant's Mississippi and Vicksburg Campaigns and Lee's Seven Days' Campaign. The event also featured an online simulation of the Battle of Antietam.
Carter Glass Mansion
The Carter Glass Mansion is an historic home originally built in 1923 by U.S. Senator Carter Glass a newspaper publisher, politician and U.S. Secretary of the Treasury under President Woodrow Wilson as well as Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and President Pro Tempore of the Senate during President Roosevelt's era. Also known as Montview, the mansion is part of the National Register of Historic Places and is a state landmark. The 1.7-acre (0.69 ha) estate consists of a 1 1⁄2-story main building flanked by slightly smaller ells. The 18-inch (46 cm) walls are constructed of quartz fieldstone quarried from the property and the mansion is covered with a grey gambrel roof. The estate was purchased by Liberty University in the late 1970s as the headquarters of the university administration, including the main office of university founder Jerry Falwell. One of the many reasons for the estate’s continued fame is that Falwell died at his desk at the Carter Glass Mansion on May 15, 2007, and his office has been preserved in the same condition ever since. Falwell was buried on the lawn of the mansion and a memorial to Falwell was placed there, overlooking the rest of the campus. The estate now serves mostly as a tourist site for the historically restored mansion as well as the Falwell office, while the upstairs portion of the mansion has been converted to a bed and breakfast for Liberty University guests.
As of August 2011, Liberty offers 148 residential and online undergraduate programs and among those offered are Aeronautics, Philosophy of Religion, English, Worship & Music Studies, Business, Criminal Justice, Education, Nursing, School of Engineering and Computational Sciences, and Theological Seminary. Liberty also offers 87 graduate programs and 11 doctoral programs within the residential and online programs.
Liberty Divinity School
Likely the most notable of Liberty University's schools is the Liberty Divinity School. It was founded in 1973, and now offers various degrees for both academic and vocational endeavors. The degrees available are the Master of Divinity (M.Div.), Master of Religious Education (including Military Chaplaincy), Master of Theology (Th.M.), Master of Arts in Marketplace Chaplaincy, Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling, Master of Arts in Religion (M.A.R.), Master of Arts in Theological Studies (M.A.T.S.), Master of Arts in Worship Studies, Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.), Doctor of Philosophy in Theology and Apologetics(Ph.D.). Some of the degrees are available to be completed online, others require residential study, while some are available in both formats.
Center for Ministry Training
The Center for Ministry Training is the practical experience requirement for LBTS students. The requirements are much like internships for other programs with a religious aspect involved in the experience. Specifically, the CMT includes Ministry Impact and Supervised Field Ministry Experience (SFME). Ministry Impact asks a Ministry Specialist to speak on practical aspects of ministry in the world today. Additionally, "[t]he main requirement for completing SFME is completing a minimum of 40 hours of field ministry during each semester."
Zaki Gordon Cinematic Arts Center
Liberty University now offers a Bachelor of Science in Cinematic Arts Degree. This program is offered in the new Zaki Gordon Cinematic Arts Center. "The B.S. in Communication Studies with a concentration in Cinematic Arts is a 2-year cohort program that students enter in their junior year." A minor is also offered. The disciplines taught include the following: Producing, Directing, Screenwriting, Cinematography, Production Design, Post-Production, General Production, Documentary, Narrative. Around 1.5 million dollars was spent on professional equipment. Guest speakers come to offer their experience to the students in the classrooms as well as in a workshop to the public. Examples of speakers that were featured in 2012 include Dan Gordon (Screenwriter), Randall Wallace (screenwriter), Sterling Anderson (Screenwriter), and Shawn Nelson (Acting Coach).
In the fall semester of 2012, 40 students will be accepted as the inaugural class to major in Cinematic Arts, eventually expanding the number of accepted students to 160. "During the first year, students will produce and direct a short film and write a full-length screenplay. They also will learn how to produce films for non-conventional and emerging platforms, such as cell phones and YouTube." The executive director of the Zaki Gordon Cinematic Arts Center is Stephan Schultze, a Hollywood veteran who is known for movies such as Far and Away. "Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. said the decision was spurred by the interest shown by current School of Communication students and is inline with Liberty’s commitment to future expansion of academic offerings and academic facilities."
The second year culminates in a large-scale theatrical project and a film festival. Students also will be required to write a business and fundraising plan for producing their own screenplay.
College of Osteopathic Medicine
On October 3, 2011, a 12 million dollar grant was sanctioned by the Virginia Tobacco Commission to build a college of osteopathic medicine and expand the health sciences school. According to the grant, Liberty University must match the 12 million dollars for construction and equipment. This grant is the second largest ever authorized to a medical school by the Virginia Tobacco Commission. A new 140,000-square-foot building will house the osteopathic medical school, at an estimated cost of 40 million dollars. Liberty University enrolled the first class in the Fall of 2014. "The new facilities are located in Campbell County near the intersection of US-460 and US-29 near the Lynchburg Airport." The college currently holds provisional accreditation from the American Osteopathic Association through the American Osteopathic Association Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation, with opportunity for full accreditation in 2018.
School of Law
School of Music
In September 2012, Liberty University announced that it will be combining the Department of Music and Humanities with the Department of Worship and Music Studies to form a new School of Music. The school of music will have 32 full-time and 24 adjunct faculty members separated into two distinct centers. The Center for Music and Performing Arts will focus on music education and performance technique, while the Center for Music and Worship will seek to train skilled musicians as worship leaders and specialists within the Christian music industry. The School of Music will be located in a new building being constructed across from the Arthur S. DeMoss Learning Center. The faculty from the School of Music are collaborating with the construction team to optimize the building to their needs. The building will include a new fine arts auditorium for university and community use, and is part of Liberty University's campus transformation initiative.
In the fall of 2014, Liberty University's School of Music will be adding several new degree programs, including Bachelor's degree concentrations in both Jazz Studies and Film Scoring (B.M.), and a 36 credit hour Master's degree in Music Education (M.A.). It has also been announced that the department is currently working on a new 45 credit hour Doctor of Worship Studies degree program (D.W.S.).
Liberty was founded in 1971 and received Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) accreditation in 1980, which was most recently reaffirmed in 2006. In addition, it was accredited by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS) in September 1984, but resigned its TRACS accreditation on November 6, 2008. Liberty has 60 accredited degree granting programs. The law school, which opened in August 2004, gained provisional accreditation from the American Bar Association in 2006 and was granted full accreditation in 2010. On December 9, 2009, Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. announced that "Liberty University has received Level VI accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). This is the highest classification from SACS and is reserved for colleges and universities that offer four or more doctoral degrees. Liberty is also accredited by: American Bar Association (ABA)  Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI)  National Association of Schools of Music (NASM)  Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE), Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
The acceptance rate for new first-time, full-time students entering Liberty’s resident program in 2012 was 24.6%.
Liberty University Online
Liberty University has an internet education component which is called LU Online, previously the Distance Learning Program (DLP). Prior to the launch of its online education component in 2009, Liberty University provided adult learning courses through the LU School of Lifelong Learning (LUSLLL) by way of its External Degree Program. The LUSLLL was Liberty University's fastest growing school at the time with Jerry Falwell forecasting in his 1997 autobiography an enrollment of 40,000 students in the early 21st Century with the expectation of an addition 10,000 students studying on campus at the same time. Both expectations have been surpassed by current enrollment figures. Liberty's online component currently provides degrees from Associates level to Doctorate. The online school runs unilaterally with the semester program offered at Liberty University's campus. One difference with LU Online is that students take 16-week (full semester) classes for a few of their cataloged courses while the remainder are taken in 8-week subterms which are titled B, C, and D. These subterms provide the student with scheduling flexibility through shorter, slightly overlapping sessions. There is a separation at the 600-level and above at which courses are only offered in the B and D terms. LU Online promotes teacher/student discourse through interactive online discussions and class size limits (capped at 25 students). Liberty University reports that enrollment for their online program is six times greater than their residential enrollment, with about 80,000 of their 92,500 total students enrolled online.
|U.S. News & World Report||80 (regional)|
Liberty University is ranked by U.S. News & World Report in several categories for 2015:
Regional Universities (South) - 80th
Best Colleges for Veterans - 37th
Best Online Bachelor's Programs - 79th
Best Online MBA Programs - 93rd
Best Online Graduate Business Programs (Excluding MBA) - 61st
Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs - 18th
Best Online Graduate Education Programs - 112th
Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs - 56th
In 2005, Barron's Profiles of American Colleges ranked LU as a "competitive" college, its fourth-highest of six ranks, indicating that it accepts students in the top 65% of their graduating class.
In 2012, with 48.2% graduation rate, Liberty University ranked among the private universities with the lowest graduation rates.
Students who live on campus are required to attend convocation at the Vines Center three times per week. At these convocations, they attend presentations by speakers from various professions, see performers and musicians, and participate in live praise and worship. Past convocation speakers have included Presidential candidate John McCain, President Ronald Reagan, President George H. W. Bush, Senator Ted Kennedy, Rev. Billy Graham, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Lt. Col. Oliver North, Major Jeff Struecker, Steve Forbes, Leonard Davidson, former U.S. Senator Jesse Helms, Sam Donaldson, John R. Rice, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, CEO William S. Simon, Elisabeth Elliot (wife of the late missionary Jim Elliot), Skip Erickson, Freddie Gage, Adrian Rogers, governor Tim Kaine, Congressman Trey Gowdy, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Neurosurgeon and 2016 Presidential candidate Ben Carson, Pastors; Mel White, Mark Driscoll, Josh Mcdowell, Miles McPherson, Rick Warren, Steven Furtick, John Piper, David Platt, Matt Chandler, John F. MacArthur and Francis Chan, Entertainers/Athletes in pro-wrestler Lex Luger, rapper Lecrae, singer-songwriter Meredith Andrews, Kari Jobe, producer Mark Burnett and his wife actress Roma Downey, author Karen Kingsbury, Bobby Bowden, Lou Holtz, Carrie Prejean, Allan Houston, Tim Tebow and Candace Cameron Bure, Kirk Cameron, Douglas Gresham, Gianna Jessen, Clint Hubbard, 2016 Presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, 2012 and 2016 Presidential candidate Rick Santorum, 2012 and 2016 Presidential candidate Rick Perry, 2008 and 2016 Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and 2008 Presidential candidate Ron Paul. Jerry Falwell regularly spoke at chapel, giving his "Never Give Up" speech in the first semester. On March 23, 2015 Senator Ted Cruz announced his candidacy for President of the United States at the university.
In May 2012, Liberty University Chancellor and President Jerry Falwell Jr announced the school's intention to pursue NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) conference affiliation for all 20 varsity sports. This announcement followed several university developments supporting the push for conference re-alignment including a 6-month feasibility study, hiring Turner Gill as football coach (formerly head coach of the University of Kansas) and renovation of the football facilities. According to the university's FBS feasibility study Liberty has accomplished the preparation necessary and is ready to make a move to the FBS, they just need to find the right home. In order to complete the move to FBS competition, Liberty must receive an invitation from one of the ten FBS conferences.
For now, the Liberty Flames are a member of the NCAA Division I Football Championships Subdivision (FCS) in football (formerly Division I-AA) and NCAA Division I sports level in other competition. Liberty is a member of the Big South Conference for 18 sports. Women's Lacrosse competes in the National Lacrosse Conference, while Women's Swimming will join the Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association, bringing the university total of scholarship-eligible varsity sports to 20. The university regularly competes for the Sasser Cup which is the Big South's trophy for the university which has the best sports program among the member institutions. Liberty has won the Sasser Cup ten times, placing it first in cup titles in the Big South. In 2012 Liberty became the first Big South school to win 5 consecutive Sasser Cups.
Newly renovated Williams Stadium is home of the Liberty Flames football program. Started in 1973, the Liberty Flames Football team originally used Lynchburg's City Stadium as their home stadium until October 21, 1989, when the Flames played their first home game on-campus at Williams Stadium in front of 12,750 fans. Recent upgrades to the stadium include increased capacity from 12,000 to 19,200 attendees, luxury suites, a Club level and a new media area. Additional phases of stadium expansion will increase seating to 30,000 by 2015.
Liberty University is also notable for its basketball programs and its venue, the Vines Center, that can house up to 8,085 spectators for its games. Several members of the Liberty men's basketball (Liberty Flames Basketball) team have been recruited to the NBA. The women's basketball team (Lady Flames Basketball) was honored by the Big South "with the Top 25 'Best of the Best' moments in League history from 1983-2008, with Liberty University's 10-year women's basketball championship run from 1996-2007 being crowned the No. 1 moment in the Big South's first 25 years."
Liberty University supports men’s and women’s club hockey teams. Men’s hockey started in 1985 when students at Liberty self-organized a team to compete against surrounding colleges and clubs but has since become a competitive club team competing against much larger schools such as Oklahoma University, University of Delaware, and Penn State University. In 2006, Liberty University opened the 3000-seat LaHaye Ice Center, which was a gift from Drs. Timothy and Beverly LaHaye. Also in 2006, Liberty became the only school in the state of Virginia to host a men’s Division I American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) club hockey team Currently, Liberty University has Division I, II and III men’s teams and Division I and II women’s teams, making it the only school in the ACHA to host 5 club hockey teams. The men’s Division I team is coached by Kirk Handy while the women’s Division I team is coached by Paul Bloomfield.
Liberty University is also proud of its Quiz Bowl team. Called the "varsity sport of the mind," Liberty's Quiz Bowl team has won Big South Conference Championship six out of seven years (2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011 & 2012). Liberty also placed 3rd in the National Academic Quiz Tournament's (NAQT) Regional Competition in 2012.
The Center for Global Engagement
The Center for Global Engagement (CGE) offers "academic programs, cross-cultural internships, short-term teams and a variety of other resources and mentorship opportunities" for students interested in service and learning opportunities abroad. Internships arranged through the CGE may be tailored to a variety of skill sets so that the experience will fulfill internship requirements for any major. "Global Teams" are short term service trips that offer cultural immersion and the possibility of academic credit. For students with a Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) certificate, the CGE has partnerships with several other countries to encourage post-graduation job placement.
Clubs and organizations
According to Liberty's website, there are over 100 registered clubs on campus. This number includes a wide variety of clubs, each of which is led by students with the aid of a Faculty Advisor. After the university's revocation of the recognition of the College Democrats provoked controversy (see "Political clubs", below), the university removed official recognition from all political clubs on campus.
Debate and Forensics Speech
Liberty's Inter-Collegiate policy debate program ranked number one overall in the Championships at the National Debate Tournament in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2011. The overall rankings include varsity, junior varsity, and novice results. In varsity rankings, Liberty finished 20th in 2005, 17th in 2006, 24th in 2007, 12th in 2008, 9th in 2009, 4th in 2010 and 4th in 2011. Liberty also hosts the Virginia High School League's annual Debate State Championships every April.
The Forensics Speech Team's Kenny Lau won the 2015 American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament National Championship in Program Oral Interpretation. Lau also received the Virginia Intercollegiate Forensics Association State Championship Individual Sweepstakes Top Speaker award in 2013.
In May 2012, Liberty University Chancellor and President Jerry Falwell Jr announced that the school's net assets are worth $1 billion, in part from the success of its online learning program and from accelerated facility expansion. This valuation is a 10-fold increase since 2006 and underscores the rapid expansion the university has recently experienced.
In December 2010, Liberty sold $120 million in facilities bonds, with the proceeds to be used to finance future expansion. An additional $100 million in taxable bonds were sold in January 2012, with the proceeds used to help finance $225.2 million of planned capital projects around the campus over the next five years. The bond offering is part of Liberty University's campus transformation plan which will include several renovations and additions to academic buildings and student housing, as well as fund the new Jerry Falwell Library and formation of a medical school. The bonds received a rating of "AA" from Standard & Poor's and in 2013 received an upgraded rating of "Aa3" along with a "stable outlook" projection from Moody's Investors Services based on "...the increasing scope of the University's activity", "...its large pool of financial reserves". "...uncommonly strong operating performance", and "...discipline around building and maintaining reserves".
The students at Liberty University received approximately $445 million in federal financial aid money in 2010, the highest total of any school in Virginia and one of the highest in the country. The total, a 56 percent increase over the prior year, was mostly in the form of student loans, but also included some grants and other forms of aid. Campus officials estimated the total received in 2013 at $775 million.
1989 bond issue
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In 1989, Liberty University applied for $60 million in low interest bonds through the Lynchburg Industrial Development Authority. After the required public hearing period the bond issue was voted upon by the IDA and approved. Shortly thereafter litigation was brought against the IDA and Liberty University by Americans United (AU) and a decision (Habel vs. Lynchburg Industrial Development Authority) was handed down in 1991 denying Liberty the bond issuance. It was ruled that Liberty was too pervasively religious and therefore was not eligible for the bonds.
This case dealt a severe financial blow to the university which was unable to fund its construction projects needed to sustain its rapid growth. A subsequent case a few years later involving Regent University was decided in a similar manner, but was later overturned. The Virginia Supreme Court reviewed the case and based its decision on a more recent US Supreme Court ruling concerning issues of Separation and Sectarianism. Since then, Regent has received approval for bond funding with the stipulation that it may not fund the Divinity School.
1994 debt buy-out
Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church and the Washington Times, and his wife Hak Ja Han helped to financially stabilize the university through two of his organizations: News World Communications (an international media firm which publishes the Washington Times and other news media), which provided a $400,000 loan to the university at 6% interest; and the Women's Federation for World Peace, which indirectly contributed $3.5 million toward the school's debt. Liberty University spokesman Mark DeMoss said the school was not aware of News World's connection to Moon when it obtained the loan through a broker. "I'm not going to be pious and tell you we would have turned it down," DeMoss said. "Because it was a business transaction, we probably would have moved forward even if Falwell or somebody in the organization knew who News World Communications was." Liberty University founder Jerry Falwell stated that the source of the funds does not influence his ministry: "If the American Atheists Society or Saddam Hussein himself ever sent an unrestricted gift to any of my ministries, be assured I will operate on Billy Sunday's philosophy: The Devil's had it long enough, and quickly cash the check."
Liberty University teaches young Earth creationism as an explanation for the appearance of life on earth. The university works with young Earth creationist organizations including Answers in Genesis. In biology classes students are taught both creationism and evolution and that the former offers the better explanation of biological diversity. In October, 2006 the university published an advertisement in The Chronicle of Higher Education in an attempt to recruit staff to its biology department. The advertisement stated that the university was "seeking faculty who can demonstrate a personal faith commitment to its evangelical Christian purpose" and specified that "compatibility with a young-earth creationist philosophy [is] required".
In the same month, prominent biologist Richard Dawkins was quoted saying the following about Liberty University: "If it's really true that the museum at Liberty University has dinosaur fossils which are labeled as being 3,000 years old, then that is an educational disgrace. It is debauching the whole idea of a university, and I would strongly encourage any members of Liberty University who may be here, to leave and go to a proper university." In December, 1991 Creation reported, Arlton C. Murray "excavated a dinosaur for Liberty University’s museum", which proclaimed "this dinosaur was the first of its kind in any creationist museum."
On May 15, 2009, vice president of student affairs Mark Hine sent an e-mail to the president of LU's College Democrats, Brian Diaz, revoking the university's recognition of the club. "The Democratic Party platform is contrary to the mission of Liberty University and to Christian doctrine", Hine's e-mail stated, citing the party's positions on abortion and federal funding thereof, divorce, birth control, same-sex marriage, hate crimes, LGBT rights, and socialism as justification for the dissolution. While the club can still meet on campus, it cannot use the university's name or reserve university facilities.
At a meeting with administration officials, the group was asked to apologize publicly for statements they had made to the media about this controversy. Diaz said he was baffled by the administration's decision, saying, "I want to be able to share the love of Christ, but I guess I can't do that on campus because I'm a Democrat as well."
Chairman of the Democratic National Committee and Democratic ex-governor Tim Kaine and 2009 Democratic gubernatorial candidates Terry McAuliffe, Brian Moran and Creigh Deeds called on the college to rescind the ban.
Liberty University President and Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr., subsequently stated that the university had not banned Democrats from campus nor had the club been banned from meeting and that neither the university nor its officials said that a person cannot be both a Christian and a Democrat. On May 28, 2009, members of the club met with LU administration members again, and Falwell stated that he was "optimistic that if the university can work directly with the students that a compromise can be reached". Hine said that while the email was not clear, he did explain to the College Democrats leadership at the time he sent the email that the group could continue to meet in common areas on campus.
Liberty's decision led some to question the university's tax-exempt status, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service, asking for a review of the university's tax status. Liberty University in turn filed a complaint with the IRS regarding the tax-exempt status of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
In late June 2009, Liberty University announced a new policy dealing with all political clubs on campus. The new policy removed official recognition from all political clubs on campus, relegating them to unofficial status. President Falwell said the previously suspended College Democrats "wouldn’t have to do anything" to be recognized under the new policy. Along with other stipulations, the policy allows unofficial clubs to use the university's name, but they will not receive any funding from the university. In response, Kaine said Liberty University solved the controversy "perfectly".
Notable alumni and associates
- "Liberty University College rankings". US News and World Reports. Retrieved 2013-11-10.
- "Liberty University Quick Facts". liberty.edu. Retrieved 2013-09-24.
- June 04, 2013 ¦ PR Web (2013-06-04). "Liberty University Hits 100,000 Enrolled, Ranks Among Nation’s Top 5 Online Educators". prweb.com. Retrieved 2013-09-24.
- "About Liberty | Liberty University Quick Facts | Liberty University". Liberty.edu. Retrieved 2012-07-10.
- "Liberty Online now 80,000 strong | Liberty University". Liberty.edu. Retrieved 2015-04-16.
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