The Board of Trustees of Liberty University, one of the largest evangelical Christian universities in the world, announced Tuesday that they had accepted the resignation of their president and chancellor, Jerry Falwell Jr., “effective immediately” after he and his wife, Rebecca, were implicated in a sex scandal Monday.
“The Liberty University Board of Trustees acted today to accept the resignation of Jerry Falwell, Jr. as its President and Chancellor and also accepted his resignation from its Board of Directors. All were effective immediately,” the board said in a statement.
The resignation comes after a tumultuous weekend for Falwell, during which it was first revealed on Sunday that his wife had an affair with Giancarlo Granda, 29, that began eight years ago. Granada later attempted to blackmail the couple. Falwell said he was shocked to learn about his wife’s affair, but Granda contradicted that claim Monday when he said he had engaged in the intimate liaisons with Falwell’s knowledge.
“Becki and I developed an intimate relationship and Jerry enjoyed watching from the corner of the room,” Granda, told Reuters.
Granda claimed his liaisons with Rebecca Falwell were frequent — happening “multiple times per year” — noting that they would meet at hotels in Miami, New York, and the Falwells’ home in Virginia.
It was reported soon after Granda’s revelations were published that Falwell had stepped down. The Liberty University president, who had already been on an “indefinite leave of absence” from the Christian college after a series of embarrassing public acts, quickly denied the report.
In their statement Tuesday, Liberty’s board said Falwell flip-flopped on an agreement to resign until finally submitting his resignation letter through his lawyer late Tuesday night.
“After agreeing yesterday to immediately resign then reversing course, Falwell, through an attorney, sent the resignation letter late last night to members of the Board’s Executive Committee pursuant to the terms of his contract of employment. The Executive Committee met this morning and voted to accept all the resignations immediately and recommend ratification to the full Board. Later this morning, the full Board gathered via conference call and unanimously voted to affirm the decision of the Executive Committee,” the board of the college based in Lynchburg, Virginia, said. “Falwell’s severance compensation was dictated by the terms of his pre-existing employment agreement without any adjustment by the University or its Board.”
It's unclear what the terms of his severance were. Falwell, a lawyer whose late father, Southern Baptist preacher Jerry Falwell Sr., who founded Liberty University in the 1970s, confirmed his resignation in a statement to ABC News, stating, “I was never called to be a pastor.”
“I was never called to be a pastor, my calling was to use my legal and business expertise to make Liberty University the evangelical version of Notre Dame," Falwell said. "Some of us are called to be preachers, that wasn’t mine. I was called to make Liberty University the greatest Christian university in the world and I couldn’t have done that as a preacher.”
Liberty’s board, which includes active and retired alumni, pastors and business executives, spent much of their meeting Tuesday discussing the future of the university, including finding a new president, and how to remain true to its mission to develop “Christ-centered men and women with the values, knowledge, and skills essential to impact the world.”
“I am so encouraged by the unity of Christ that I saw exemplified by our Board today. Liberty University’s future is very bright and in capable hands of leaders who are committed to being good stewards of what the Lord has entrusted!” Acting Board Chairman Allen McFarland said in a statement.
“Our students are ready to be world changers as Champions for Christ. Their spirit is strong as they look to the future. I intend to do all I can to nurture their spiritual side as they grow academically and enjoy all our campus has to offer,” added Jerry Prevo, who will stay on as acting president.
In a statement to The Christian Post on Tuesday, the Rev. Johnnie Moore, founder of the KAIROS Company and noted religious freedom advocate, said: "Liberty would not exist without the Falwells but the brilliance of its original mission and vision is that long ago it transcended the influence of even them. Liberty is an institution designed to thrive for the cause of Christ today and for generations. I am sure members of the community — past and present — will pray and will work together to ensure that Liberty's best days are ahead."