A Christian university has credited God for the record number of students it welcomed this year, both online and in person, making it one of the youngest universities to achieve such a feat.
Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, welcomed more than 130,000 students for the first time this fall through its residential and online programs. The campus had a record-breaking 15,800 students, and its online program saw 115,000 students enroll to pursue a degree online.
The school also offers online Christian education to K-12 students through its Liberty University Online Academy, which saw 18,400 students enrolled this fall.
The number of incoming students living on campus this year is 4,600, a close second to the 4,800 new and transfer undergraduate students Liberty had last fall. The school’s residential population consists of students from all 50 states and over 80 different countries, according to a statement from Liberty.
In response to the growth in enrollment, Liberty began renovating and constructing new buildings and diversified its degree programs.
“Liberty built out its campus infrastructure to accommodate growth and is launching more projects, such as another residence hall tower, a third parking deck and a 120,000 square foot, two-story dining hall,” a spokesperson told The Christian Post in an emailed statement late Monday.
Interim President Jerry Prevo added: “God continues to bless Liberty University, and we are grateful to have started this year off strong with our largest student body ever. Our Christian mission, world-class academics, and NCAA Division I athletics have allowed this amazing institution to rise and become a top choice in the nation. It’s an exciting time to be on campus.”
Scott Hicks, provost and chief academic officer at Liberty University, added that along with an increase in enrollment, the university is experiencing high retention rates. Hicks believes this is proof that the school is meeting new students’ needs while also “adding value” to existing students.
“At the heart of the matter is the heart of our people. The way we add the most value is by educating the whole person and being obedient to Christ,” the chief academic officer said. “Because we have remained committed to our original mission, Training Champions for Christ, we are seeing the fruit.”
Founded in 1971, Liberty University states in its mission and doctrinal statements that its goal is to help students achieve their academic goals while also training them to be “champions for Christ.” In addition to a law school and a medical school, the university has 15 colleges and schools, offering students 700 unique study programs and another 450 online.
Liberty officials attribute part of the university's success to not straying from founder Jerry Falwell Sr.'s vision of "training champions for Christ, the spokesperson said, adding: “Many institutions of higher learning have strayed from their founding mission and academic achievement, offering no serious alternative to the failed status quo of many universities and educational systems. … Liberty is successful because Liberty isn’t ashamed of its Christian identity. Liberty now offers over 800 programs of study, including degrees in engineering, law and osteopathic medicine.”
Ron Kennedy, executive vice president of enrollment management and marketing, thanked God for the school’s record-breaking enrollment numbers, noting that the Lord has gone “above and beyond” for the university.
“With the continued growth of our online program, Liberty’s impact is truly being felt around the world,” he said in a statement.
Kennedy noted that the university is not alone in having faced challenges throughout the past three years, likely referring to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns' impact on student learning.
“It’s a challenge for such a large institution as Liberty, but we were able to accommodate our guests through virtual tours and admission sessions when greeting them face to face was not an option,” he said. “We adjusted to remote operations when necessary without compromising our quality service. God has blessed us through it all.”
Last August, Liberty implemented temporary mitigation measures to slow the spread of the virus after nearly 160 students and staff contracted COVID-19. The measures included temporarily moving residential classes online and suspending large indoor gatherings.
The university announced in March 2020 that it would remain open despite statewide closures of schools. However, many classes were conducted online to maintain social distancing.
“This period is simply a temporary dial back of some larger indoor activities. Students will NOT be confined to their rooms and are free to use campus facilities and dining venues as usual. The quarantine will only occur for those students with new positive cases as well as those who have been determined to have direct exposure to individuals who have tested positive. All others are free to move about and enjoy our beautiful campus as usual,” a statement from the university read.
Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: email@example.com.