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Liberty University

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.

Religious foundation

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.

Campus life

Students who live on campus are required to attend convocation three times per week where they have worship services and hear from speakers in all walks of professional life. Past 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. Falwell regularly spoke at chapel, giving his "Never Give Up" speech in the first semester. Liberty University continues to invest in capital projects, with 19 new dormitory buildings and a tunnel connecting the east and west ends of the campus completed for the fall semester of 2004.

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.

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 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.

Faculty

Using "non-tenured teaching faculty" was a matter of pride to Falwell, as it allowed the administration to keep a firm grip on the behavior of the academic community. As Falwell once stated, "When we ask a faculty member be dismissed when he's teaching something wrong, our president understands and it's good to do that — because your paycheck may not be coming along next week if you don't. 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.

Accreditation

Liberty was founded in 1971 and received Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) accreditation in 1980. In 2006, Liberty successfully completed re-accreditation, and remains currently accredited by SACS. The law school, which opened in 2003, gained provisional accreditation from the American Bar Association in 2006, which enables its graduates to sit for any bar examination in the United States. Provisional Accreditation is the highest level of accreditation available at present; full accreditation cannot be granted until a school has been in operation for five years. Although, students graduating from a provisionally accredited law school enjoy the full rights guaranteed to fully accredited schools.

Academics and rankings

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.

Liberty University also offers a School of Law, 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 The Princeton Review, Young America's Foundation, and The Christian Science Monitor.

In 2005, Barron's Profiles of American Colleges ranked LU as a "competitive" college. although the acceptance rate is 94%.

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%.

Extracurricular activities

Athletics

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.

2007 Big South Conference Champions

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.

Debate

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.

Finances

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 over 11,000 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 he had a $34 million insurance policy, which was used to pay off the debt.

Controversy

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.

1994 Debt Buy-out

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.

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. "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 supports Young Earth creationist organizations including Answers in Genesis. In Biology classes students are taught creationism alongside evolution and Intelligent Design theory in what the Biology department calls "an attempt to provide a balanced view of the different origins theories". A good amount of consideration is given to micro-evolution, however large scale (macro) evolution, although still taught, is rejected. An additional class called Creation Studies: History of Life investigates issues of creation and evolution, and how to refute evolution.

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.".

Notable alumni and associates

Sports

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

Entertainment

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

Miscellaneous

David A. Schauer >
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

References

External links

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