Liberty University is a Christian liberal arts university in Lynchburg, Virginia. It was founded as Lynchburg Baptist College in 1971 by Jerry Falwell who was also the Senior Pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church. The school was originally known as Lynchburg Baptist College before settling on its current name in 1985.
The US News and World Report currently ranks Liberty University as a fourth tier institution in the Universities Masters (South) category.
For the 2006 school year, Liberty University recently built five new dormitory buildings on Campus East, and completed six additional units for fall 2007. 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. Liberty Christian Academy, (formerly Lynchburg Christian Academy) began its Spring semester of 2006 in its new building on Liberty's campus. July 2, 2006 marked the first Thomas Road services to be held in the new building adjacent to Liberty's campus. The University has official ties with Thomas Road Baptist Church, the church that founded the University.
The facilities at Liberty University include the 90,000 square foot LaHaye Student Center, which boasts an impressive Lounge, Basketball Courts, Cardio and Weight Rooms, Cafe, Multi-Purpose Rooms, Aerobic Rooms and other amenities. Other projects include the expansion of student activity facilities, a Law School and Library, and an ice hockey rink which was donated by Tim and Beverly LaHaye, and a new football operations center, donated by AL Williams — a frequent benefactor of the school. The Liberty University School of Law has a partial replica of the United States Supreme Court (the bench and podiums are to scale), where students practice oral advocacy.
In December 2007, Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. announced plans for the development of a sports park on the 5,000-acre, university-owned Liberty Mountain that flanks the campus; the park is planned to feature hiking and biking trails, a ski lift and Snowflex slope, downhill bike trails and will be open to students and the public.
The phrase "That's not the Liberty Way" is commonly heard across campus, used by students and professors alike as a good-natured "poke" at the school's rules. On several occasions Falwell described the school as "Bible Boot Camp." He exhorted Liberty's students to burn it down if it "ever turned liberal."
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.
As of March 2007, Liberty offers 71 majors & specializations and among those offered are Philosophy and Religion, English, Worship & Music Ministry, Business, Criminal Justice, Education and Nursing. The university's Distance Learning Program offers 36 degree programs.
In 2007 Liberty University School of Law, 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 71.97%.
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 University, which has won it seven times. In addition, Liberty University students won the inaugural Big South Conference Quiz Bowl competition in 2006, and recently repeated the feat in 2007 to retain the title for the second consecutive year.
Perhaps the most prominent athlete to come through Liberty is current senior Josh McDougal. McDougal is a 12 time cross country and track All-American and in November 2007 outkicked Oregon's Galen Rupp to win the NCAA D1 Cross Country Championship. He has also helped lead the Flames' cross country and track teams to numerous Big South Championships.
Liberty's football program is headed by Danny Rocco (2006 & 2007 Big South coach of the year), who had coached for the New York Jets and Virginia Cavaliers under Al Groh. In 2006, Rocco's first year at the helm, he led the Flames to a 6-5 winning season after going 1-10 the previous season in 2005 (noted the biggest turnaround in the nation in the FCS) and in 2007, his team narrowly lost at Division I FBS team . Liberty plays their home games at Williams Stadium which has a capacity of 12,000.
The University gained some media attention in the winter of 2005 when their women's basketball team, the Lady Flames led by Katie Feenstra, made the Sweet Sixteen of the 2005 NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Tournament, being labeled a "Cinderella" team. After defeating fourth-seeded Penn State and fifth-seeded DePaul, the Flames' winning streak was halted by top-seeded LSU. Feenstra was later drafted by the San Antonio Silver Stars of the WNBA. Volleyball and both Men and Women's Basketball are played inside the 9,000 seat Vines Center, which also hosts special events and concerts, such as WinterFest.
2006 marked an important event in Liberty athletics, as the Flames returned to wrestling competition for the first time since 1994. Former Flames’ wrestler Jesse Castro was hired as Liberty’s new head wrestling coach; he graduated from the program in 1981 after earning his bachelor’s degree in physical education. Wrestling is no stranger to Liberty University as the school sponsored the sport from 1974 to 1994. The reinstatement of the wrestling program was aided by the support of the Liberty University Wrestling Foundation, which is a group of alumni and supporters of the former program who have been raising funds to help facilitate the return of wrestling to Liberty University.
On November 17, 2007 the Flames captured their first Big South Conference Football championship with a commanding 31-0 victory over Gardner-Webb University. The Flames capped off their second year under head coach Danny Rocco with an 8-3 record and an unblemished 4-0 Big South record to claim the title. The same week, The Liberty University Men's Soccer team beat Radford University 2-1 to capture the Big South Conference soccer title and their first appearance in the national tournament. Also that same week, the Liberty Women's Volleyball team shutout Winthrop in the finals of the Big South Volleyball tournament. it was the first conference championship for the volleyball team since 2001. The Liberty Men's and Women's cross country teams also won the Big South Championship with Josh McDougal, Jordan McDougal and Jarvis Jelen sweeping the top 3 positions in the men's race for the third straight year.
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.
Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church and the Washington Times, 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 Dr. 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."
Ron Godwin, now Vice Chancellor at Liberty University, was previously employed under Rev. Moon as Vice President of the Washington Times.
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. "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.
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.
Currently, the school is looking for biology teachers with "a young-earth creationist philosophy." Furthermore, the school asserts "there is now mounting evidence that man and dinosaurs did indeed live on earth at the same time" and says that "the chances are good" that there were dinosaurs on board Noah's Ark.
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," but earned his Ph.D. in geosciences from University of Rhode Island 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." Dr. Eugenie C. Scott of the National Center for Science Education said fundamentalists who capitalized on secular credentials "to miseducate the public" were doing a disservice to society. Whereas, Dr. Michael L. Dini said, "Scientists do not base their acceptance or rejection of theories on religion, and someone who does should not be able to become a scientist." Commenting on his dissertation that repeatedly described events as occurring tens of millions of years ago, Ross explained, "I did not imply or deny any endorsement of the dates." Ross's dissertation and his subsequent statements with respect to the consensus of conventional science as opposed to his own beliefs as he expresses and teaches them at Liberty has resulted in controversy, and includes questions about intellectual and philosophical integrity and consistency with respect to science and creationism.
During a lecture given at Randolph College, formerly Randolph-Macon Woman's College, Dr. Richard Dawkins of Oxford University, said that "If it's really true, that the museum at Liberty University has dinosaur fossils which are labeled as being 3000 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.".
|Name||Known for||Relationship to Liberty University|
|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|
|Tony Beasley||current MLB third base coach for Pittsburgh Pirates|
|Sid Bream||former MLB player|
|Dwayne Carswell||former NFL player with the Denver Broncos|
|Kelvin Edwards||former NFL player with the New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys|
|Katie Feenstra||current WNBA player|
|Samkon Gado||currently a free agent NFL|
|Eric Green||former NFL player|
|Lee Guetterman||former MLB player|
|Wayne Haddix||former NFL player|
|James McKnight||former NFL player|
|Darryl Roberts||current soccer player with Denizlispor|
|Johnny Shepherd||former Canadian Football League and NFL player|
|Donald Smith||former NFL player with the Dallas Cowboys|
|Osei Telesford||current soccer player with Chicago Fire|
|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|
|Aaron Horton||Member of the band Escape Velocity||Alumnus|
|Mark Lowry||Christian comedian and vocalist||Alumnus|
|Jody McBrayer||Member of Christian vocal group Avalon|
|Toby McKeehan, Michael Tait, and Kevin Max||The members of dc Talk, a Christian rock band||Alumni|
|Guy Penrod||Member of the gospel group Gaither Vocal Band|
|Bob Sturm||Radio host on Dallas-based KTCK's BaD Radio||Alumnus|
|Phil Stacey||Singer, American Idol contestant||Distance-Learning student|
|Jeremy Nicholson||Emmy Award Winning Videographer||Alumnus|
|Vic Mignogna||Anime voice actor||Alumnus|
|Name||Known for||Relationship to Liberty University|
|Jerry Falwell Jr.||Current Chancellor of Liberty University|
|Kevin Beary||Current Sheriff of Orange County, Florida|
|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 Louisiana State Representative (1996-2004)|
|Executive Director, National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP)||Adrian M. Smith||U.S. Congressman||Attended for a year-and-a-half|