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Liberty University is a private, Baptist, Evangelical Christian, liberal arts university located in Lynchburg, Virginiamarker. With approximately 12,000 residential students, and another 38,000 studying through distance learning, LU is currently the largest evangelical university in the world.

It was founded as Lynchburg Baptist College in 1971 by Jerry Falwell who was also the Senior Pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Churchmarker. The name was changed to Liberty Baptist College in 1976 before settling on its current name in 1984 when it obtained university status.


Religious foundation

Demoss Learning Center at Liberty University
Liberty University describes itself as a Christian academic community. Its mission and aims are stated as promoting both the intellectual and spiritual development of its students.
Liberty University Vines Center

Campus life

Students who live on campus are required to attend convocation three times per week. At these convocations they have opportunity to hear from speakers in all walks of professional life, be entertained by talented 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, Rev. Billy Graham, Col. Oliver North, Steve Forbes, Leonard Davidson, Former US Senator from North Carolina Jesse Helms, Sam Donaldson, John R. Rice, Elisabeth Elliot (wife of the late missionary Jim Elliot), Skip Erickson, Freddie Gage, Adrian Rogers, creationist Ken Ham, governor Tim Kaine, Sean Hannity, and 2008 Presidential Candidates Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul. Jerry Falwell regularly spoke at chapel, giving his "Never Give Up" speech in the first semester.
Mike Huckabee plays at Thomas Road

Liberty University continues to invest heavily in capital projects. Liberty University's Campus East housing complex now boasts 30 new multi-story apartment style dormitories, the last six of which were completed in 2007. Students living in these dormitories can cook meals in their own kitchen, and enjoy a living room and private baths. There are two clubhouses which offer a swimming pool, billiards room, computer lab, private theater, restaurant and a convenience store. A tunnel connecting the east and west ends of the campus was completed in 2004. A second tunnel is scheduled to be completed in the near future to provide safe pedestrian passage under the Norfolk and Southern Railroad and access nearby shopping opportunities at Wal-Mart as well as the Wards Crossing retail stores. 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.

July 2, 2006 marked the first Thomas Road services to be held in the new sanctuary building adjacent to Liberty's campus. Many of the students attend and participate in services at this facility. The University has official ties with Thomas Road Baptist Churchmarker, the church that founded the University.

The facilities at Liberty University include the LaHaye Student Center, which boasts a Lounge, Basketball Courts, Cardio and Weight Rooms, Cafe, Multi-Purpose Rooms, Aerobic Rooms and other amenities. The adjacent Tilley Center features TV lounges, game tables, pool room, and social areas as well as a stage for frequent student performances bands and small concerts. Other projects include an extensive Mountain bike trail system, a motorcross facility, paintball fields, 3D archery range, intramural sports program and several club sports such as LU ice hockey which plays in an ice rink donated by Tim and Beverly LaHaye, and a new indoor soccer facility.

Construction is currently underway on university-owned Candler Mountain (commonly called Liberty Mountain) that flanks the campus to complete an outdoor sports park. The park is planned to feature additional hiking and biking trails, a ski lift and Snowflex slope, and downhill bike trails. It will be open to both students and the public. The Snowflex slope is scheduled to be opened August 29, 2009.

Williams Stadium at Liberty University

Liberty Way

The university has a code of student conduct, documented in "The Liberty Way", which states: "It is the duty of every student to respect Liberty's Statement of Doctrine and Purpose. They may not engage in any activity on or off campus that would compromise the testimony or reputation of the University or cause disruption to Liberty's Christian learning environment." The code of conduct includes possible reprimands and, later, fines, for such activities as attending dances, violating curfew, viewing R-rated movies, drinking, smoking, viewing sexually explicit material, entering the bedroom of a member of the opposite sex, having an abortion, and participating in unauthorized petitions.

The phrases such as "Is that the Liberty Way," "That's not the Liberty Way", and "That aint the Liberty way" is sometimes heard across campus, used by students and professors alike as a good-natured "poke" at the school's rules.

In the summer of 2005, the university announced it was slightly relaxing its in-class dress code to allow flip-flops, capri pants, jeans, and other casual articles of clothing (but not shorts) to be worn in the classroom as long as the clothing did not have holes in them. Rules such as collared shirts for male students still apply. Faculty members work under a contract requiring them to abide by similar behavioral codes.


Using "non-tenured teaching faculty" was a matter of pride to Falwell, as he felt that it allowed the administration to hold the LU academic community to a higher standard of academic and professional performance. He often compared Liberty's no tenure policy to similar polices at the country's military academy. Though Falwell had opposed tenure in the past, the University tenured its first faculty member, Bruce Green, in 2004 and Professors Roger Bern and Jeffrey Tuomala followed within a few years. In 2007 Mathew D. Staver became the 4th tenured professor at Liberty.


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 2003, gained provisional accreditation from the American Bar Association in 2006.

Academics and rankings

Liberty's DeMoss Hall, the campus's main academic building exhibiting faux-Jeffersonian architecture
As of February 2009, Liberty offers 71 majors & specializations and among those offered are Aeronautics, Philosophy and Religion, English, Worship & Music Ministry, Business, Criminal Justice, Education and Nursing. The university's Distance Learning Program offers 36 degree programs.

The acceptance rate for students entering LU in 2009 was 96.2%.

Liberty University also offers a School of Aeronautics, School of Lawmarker, School of Engineering and Computational Sciences, and a Theological Seminary.

LU has been ranked in the Top-10 most conservative colleges in the U.S. by Young America's Foundation,.

The U.S. News & World Report currently ranks Liberty University as a Fourth Tier institution in the Universities Masters (South) category. Other schools listed on the same tier and category are Southern Wesleyan University, Bethel College, and Norfolk State Universitymarker.

In 2005, Barron's Profiles of American Colleges ranked LU as a "competitive" college.

In 2007 Liberty University School of Lawmarker, provisionally approved by the American Bar Association, announced an 89% Bar passage rate from its first graduating class of Law Students. The bar passage rate far exceeded the State Average of 72%.

In 2008 the School of Lawmarker announced a 94.4% first time passage rate on the Virginiamarker Bar Exam, second only to the University of Virginiamarker

Extracurricular activities


Liberty Flames logo

The Liberty Flames are a member of the NCAA Division I-AA level Big South Conference for 18 sports. 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 six times, second only to Coastal Carolina Universitymarker, which has won it seven times.In addition, Liberty University students won the inaugural Big South Conference Quiz Bowl competition in 2006, and won again in 2007.


Liberty's Inter-Collegiate policy debate program, formerly led by Brett O'Donnell, was number one in the overall rankings Championships in the National Debate Tournament for 2005, 2006, and 2007. The touting of this by Liberty and in the press has led to controversy, as the overall ranking included results for novice and junior varsity debates. In varsity rankings, Liberty was 20th in 2005, 17th in 2006, and 24th in 2007.

Criticism of the debate program extends to the Christian community as well. John Lofton of The American View Christian radio show accused Liberty University of not being "a truly Christian college" when Jerry Falwell gave permission for the debate team to debate in favor of abortion when required. The issue arose when the team was faced with the need to argue for abortion rights or give up the debate program for that year.


In the past, the institution faced a series of financial crises. Today, the university is self sustaining and financially independent. Total enrollment has increased to just under 12,000 students residentially, and about 30,000 students in their distance learning program in the past five years — a 74% increase. Tuition has also increased significantly during this time, though not at a pace that exceeds tuition increases at other schools. In 2007 Liberty was between $20 and $25 million in debt, but when Falwell died in May 2007, he had a $34 million insurance policy, which was used to pay off the debt. In January 2009, Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. announced the university's plans to lower tuition for the 2009-2010 academic year by almost $6 million.


The monogram of Liberty University, on Candlers Mountain, as viewed from near campus.

1972 Securities and Exchange Commission investigation

Jerry Falwell started Lynchburg Baptist College by selling bonds to a small group of private investors. However, in 1972, the Securities and Exchange Commission investigated the bonds alleging Falwell's church committed "fraud and deceit" in the issuance of $6.5 million in unsecured church bonds. The church won a 1973 federal court case prosecuted at the behest of the SEC, in which the Court completely exonerated the church and ruled that there had been no intentional wrong-doing.

1989 bond issue

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's University was decided in similar manner and then later was 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's has received approval for bond funding with the stipulation that it may not fund the Divinity School.

During this same period of time the scandal surrounding PTL Ministries and involving TV Evangelist Jim Bakker and later a similar discovery of improprieties by Jimmy Swaggart led to a severe downturn in charitable giving to televangelism organizations such as Falwell's which resulted in a decline of contributions to the fledgling University.

This combination of events began a period of deep indebtedness for Liberty University.

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, 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, Stating: "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."

2005 Equality Ride

Liberty made news in 2005 when students from the Equality Ride visited the university and spoke informally with Liberty students. According to organizers, they were turned away from the library when they tried to donate books about homosexuality. The organizers were also unable to turn over to Jerry Falwell, the founder and chancellor of the university, anonymous letters from alleged current students at Liberty who claim they are gay. They were, however, able to speak with some of the students who attend the school. In March 2006, the Equality Ride returned, resulting in 24 arrests for trespassing when they attempted to cross into campus property after being warned not to.

Don Egle, director of public relations at Liberty, said, "We don’t feel that this situation warrants a comment." When asked about the school's policies toward gay students Egle said only "we follow Scripture." Falwell reiterated the University's stance when confronted with the issue, "We do not believe in gay marriage or polygamy or any other family form than a man marrying a woman singly." Jake Reitan, director of youth programs for Soulforce, said that the group requested the library accept books that could be added “that students could decide to read or not,” and called for the University to designate some place on campus where students could talk about being gay without fear of being expelled or having their parents informed.

In early 2005, SoulForce asked to return and was granted permission by Liberty University to sit in quiet protest in one of Liberty University's weekly convocations. After the convocation, the Soulforce members were met with kindness from Liberty faculty and staff- many who stayed after the service to have friendly conversations with the Soulforce members. Students at Liberty University even baked homemade cookies for members of Soulforce. Soulforce sent word back to Liberty saying that they were pleased with the way they were treated.

In April 2006, Falwell allowed Reform Rabbi Eric Yoffie to speak at the university on behalf of gay rights citing legal protections for gay couples.[53952] "You oppose gay marriage while we believe in legal protection for gay couples. We understand your reading of the Biblical texts, even if we read those texts in a different way." Falwell said Yoffie's tone was as important as his message. "He came across in a loving, respectful way," and students were also responsive, and expressed interest in common ground.

Biology and fossils

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 creationism offers a better explanation of biological diversity than evolution.

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 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."

Liberty professor Marcus R. Ross was featured in a report on creationism. Ross "believes that the Bible is a literally true account of the creation of the universe and that the earth is at most 10,000 years old." This is in contrast to his previous position as reflected when he earned his Ph.D. in geosciences from University of Rhode Islandmarker with a dissertation about "the abundance and spread of mosasaurs, marine reptiles that, as he wrote, vanished at the end of the Cretaceous era about 65 million years ago." Ross explains in his Creation Science classes that it was necessary for him to "follow the rules" of secular science while earning his degrees for the sake of recognition of the validity of his scientific research and methods among the secular scientific community. He explains that he has held an young earth creationist view since he was very young, but few secular scientists are willing to listen to the arguments of anyone who has not gained academic recognition within the world of secular science. Ross has been criticized by some for taking this academic route, but Ross claims that it only firmed his belief in young earth creationism and has enabled him to find academic ground upon which to base the argument for his scientific credentials.

Political clubs

On May 15, 2009, vice president of student affairs, Mark Hine, sent an e-mail to the president of LU's College Democrats, Brian O'nill 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, same-sex marriage, hate crimes, the LGBT agenda, 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 publicly apologize for statements they had made to the media about this controversy. The head of the LU College Democrats, Brian O'nill Diaz, was quoted as saying he was baffled by the administration's decision, "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 Governor Tim Kaine and gubernatorial candidates Terry McAuliffe, Brian Moran and Creigh Deeds called on the college to rescind the ban. Republican gubernatorial candidate Robert McDonnell stated that he "personally disagrees" with Liberty's decision, but that because it is a private school, its leaders can make their own decisions.

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr., subsequently stated that The University had not banned Democrats from campus nor had the club been banned from meeting. 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 officials at Liberty University, and Falwell stated that he was “optimistic that if the university can work directly with the students that a compromise can be reached.”

Brian O'nill Diaz, the College Democrat's head, later announced that he had resigned and would be transferring out of LU, citing the administration’s dealings with him personally, as well as its decision to remove the club’s sponsor, as factors in his decision. LU officials had demanded the Democrats find a new sponsor if it wants to regain official recognition. The current sponsor had been convicted of several misdemeanors by a local Virginia court resulting from a family dispute.

Liberty's decision has led some to question the University's tax-exempt status, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State has 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, Liberty University announced a new policy dealing with all political clubs on campus. The new policy removes official recognition from all political clubs on campus, relegating them to unofficial status. Chancellor 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 college funding. Democratic Governor Tim Kaine was quoted as saying that Liberty University solved the club controversy "Perfectly."

Notable alumni and associates


Name Known for Relationship to Liberty University
Peter Aluma former NBA player
Sebastian Barrie former NFL player for Green Bay Packers, Arizona Cardinals, and San Diego Chargers
Fred Banks former NFL player for Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins, and Chicago Bears
Doug Brady former MLB player for Chicago White Sox
Tony Beasley current MLB third base coach for Pittsburgh Pirates
Sid Bream former MLB player
Dwayne Carswell former NFL player with the Denver Broncos
Seth Curry current basketball player with Duke
Kelvin Edwards former NFL player with the New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys
Megan Frazee current WNBA player with the San Antonio Silver Stars
Katie Feenstra current WNBA player with the Atlanta Dream
Samkon Gado current NFL player with the St. Louis Rams
Eric Green former NFL player
Lee Guetterman former MLB player
Wayne Haddix former NFL player
Rashad Jennings current NFL player with the Jacksonville Jaguars
Leroy Kinard former NFL player with the New York Jets
Matt Lambros current CFL player with the Toronto Argonauts
James McKnight former NFL player
Julius Nwosu former NBA player
Vince Redd current NFL player with the New England Patriots
Darryl Roberts current soccer player with Denizlispor
Stephen Sene former NFL player
Johnny Shepherd former Canadian Football League and NFL player
Donald Smith former NFL player with the Dallas Cowboys
Osei Telesford current soccer player with Puerto Rico Islanders
Randy Tomlin former MLB player
Erick Harris former NFL player with the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs


Name Known for Relationship to Liberty University

Jody McBrayer Member of Christian vocal group Avalon Alumnus
Toby McKeehan, Michael Tait (now with Newsboys), and Kevin Max The members of dc Talk, a Christian hip-hop band Alumni
Guy Penrod Member of the gospel group Gaither Vocal Band Alumnus
Darrell Farley Radio Personality and Music Producer Former Student
Bob Sturmmarker Radio host on Dallasmarker-based KTCKmarker's BaD Radio Alumnus
Phil Stacey Singer, American Idol contestant Distance-Learning Student
Terry Fator Ventriloquist, Terry Fator: Live from Las Vegas (2009) commentary Alumnus
Jeremy Nicholson Emmy Award Winning Videographer Alumnus
Richard Rossi Filmmaker Alumnus
Vic Mignogna Anime voice actor Alumnus
Heidi Mueller Television Actress Alumnus
Shannon Bream Television Reporter/Anchor Alumnus
Mark Lowry Christian comedian and vocalist Alumnus
Michelle Wright Television Reporter/Anchor Alumnus
Meredith Andrews Contemporary Christian music artist Alumnus


Name Known for Relationship to Liberty University

Jerry Falwell, Jr. Current Chancellor of Liberty University
Brian O'nill Diaz Current National Vice Chair of the College Democrats of America Faith Caucus; Founder of the Liberty University College Democrats Attended Liberty University for One Year; Currently attends Randolph College
Shannon Bream Fox News' Supreme Court reporter
Kevin Beary Former Sheriff of Orange County, Floridamarker
William Franklin Graham IV Evangelist; Billy Graham's grandson
Angela Elwell Hunt Christian author
Ben Parkhill Political consultant; Sr. advisor to Miss. Gov. Haley Barbour Correspondence student
Tony Perkins Family Research Council president and former Louisianamarker State Representative (1996-2004)
Adrian M. Smith U.S. Congressman Attended for a year-and-a-half

Further reading

Roose, Kevin, _The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University_, 2009, Grand Central Publishing, 9780446178426


  1. LaHaye Student Center - Official Page - Liberty University
  2. Erinn Morgan, Liberty University Pledges ‘Good Clean Fun’ at New Sports Park, The New York Times, December 12, 2007.
  3. Retrieved 2009-05-23
  5. U.S. News and World Reports, Master's Universities (South) tier 4 schools. Retrieved on 2009-03-23
  6. Barron's Profiles of American Colleges, 26th Edition (Barron's 2005). This comprehensive guide provides an index of college majors, admissions requirements, tuition and financial, student-faculty ratios, extra-curricular activities and campus life for more than 1650 schools
  7. Liberty Journal
  9. National Debate Tournament Fall 2005 Report National Debate Tournament, 2005. (MS Word file)
  10. National Debate Tournament Spring 2006 Report National Debate Tournament, 2006. (MS Word file)
  11. Cut, Thrust and Christ Susannah Meadows. Newsweek, February 6 2006.
  12. A Truly Christian College Would Teach Biblical Defense Of The Faith Not "Debate" As A Game John Lofton, The American View, 2006
  13. The Liberty Champion
  14. Blue Ridge Business Journal
  15. Liberty Journal
  16. "Jerry Falwell, Moral Majority Founder, Dies at 73", New York Times, May 16, 2007
  17. "Also in 1995, the Women's Federation made another donation that illustrates how Moon supports fellow conservatives. It gave a $3.5 million grant to the Christian Heritage Foundation, which later bought a large portion of Liberty University's debt, rescuing the Rev. Jerry Falwell's Lynchburg, Va., religious school from the brink of bankruptcy."
  18. "$3.5 MILLION GIFT: In November, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Women's Federation for World Peace (WFWP), which is headed by Moon's wife, contributed $3.5 million to Christian Heritage Foundation (CHF) of Virginia for "educational purposes" in 1995."
  19. [1]
  20. /
  22. Skalka, Jennifer. McAuliffe Jumps Into Liberty U/Young Dems Battle, National Journal, Hotline OnCall, May 22, 2009
  23. Reed, Ray. "Kaine calls on LU to reconsider Democratic club ban." Lynchburg News-Advance, May 22, 2009.
  24. Thompson, Dave. Liberty University College Democrats’ president resigns. The Lynchburg News & Advance, June 19, 2009.
  25. Media General News Service. Liberty U. Democrats lose president, sponsor. June 21, 2009.
  27. Liberty U. implements new club policy June 22, 2009.
  30. Wild Florida - a series from WPBT Channel 2
  31. Liberty Journal
  36. US Chamber of Congress

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