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Liberty University to reorganize leadership structure, set approval process for convocation speakers

Liberty University
The Freedom Tower at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. The Tower is the home for Liberty's School of Divinity. |

Liberty University has announced that it's reorganizing its leadership structure following the resignation of former president Jerry Falwell Jr.

Liberty’s Board of Trustees met Oct. 29-30 and announced Tuesday that they voted unanimously to restructure the leadership for the prominent Lynchburg, Virginia-based evangelical Christian school.

According to the new model, a chancellor will be hired to serve as the spiritual leader for the university and a separate president will be hired to oversee academics, operations, and employees. 

The board also voted to name 10 trustees to a president and chancellor search committee, which will begin a planning process for presenting candidates for the two leadership positions.

“The process for filling these positions is expected to take over a year and will not begin in earnest until the board approves processes and job descriptions in a future meeting,” explained Liberty.

Further, the board also expressed support for standards regarding the approval of speakers for the Liberty Convocation program, a twice-weekly event required for enrolled students.

“The trustees also endorsed all the remaining speakers scheduled for Liberty University’s Convocation program for the fall semester and, at the request of President Jerry Prevo, the board committed that its Spiritual Mission Committee would partner with David Nasser, senior vice president of the Office of Spiritual Development, to give advice and approval to all convocation speakers for the spring semester,” they stated.

“The committee and university will ensure that religious speakers are in sync with its Doctrinal Statement and communicate that the university does not endorse viewpoints that are inconsistent with that statement, even though these views might be provided a platform for academic purposes.”

Jerry Falwell Jr.
Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. speaks at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 21, 2016. |

Save71, a group comprised of Liberty alumni, faculty, and students, were critical of the development, believing that the board did not go far enough in addressing various concerns. 

“Still no apology from Liberty’s board. Instead of admitting guilt and changing direction, they just gave themselves the job of choosing Liberty’s next leaders, and asserted more authority over Liberty’s convocation speakers,” the group tweeted on Monday.

In August, the Board of Trustees of Liberty University announced that they accepted the resignation of Falwell from his various leadership positions.

At issue were growing controversies over various social media posts and revelations that Falwell’s wife had an extramarital affair that the Liberty president was allegedly aware of.

Concerns over how Falwell ran Liberty prompted the school’s Executive Committee to hire a forensic firm to examine “all facets of Liberty University operations during Jerry Falwell Jr.’s tenure as president, including but not limited to financial, real estate, and legal matters.”

“While we had been willing to extend grace and understanding to Jerry Falwell Jr. before, once the revelations about his past personal life came more fully to light, we acted swiftly and decisively to ask for his immediate resignation, which we received,” stated Liberty’s leadership on Aug. 31.

“Some may say that all the signs were there for a long time before last week. It’s certainly fair to say that there were questionable comments made, worrying behavior, and inappropriate social media posts, but all the signs were not there ...”

Last week, Falwell filed a lawsuit against Liberty in the Commonwealth of Virginia Circuit Court for the city of Lynchburg, claiming that the school engaged in defamation and breach of contract regarding his resignation.

“While I have nothing but love and appreciation for the Liberty community, and I had hoped to avoid litigation, I must take the necessary steps to restore my reputation and hopefully help repair the damage to the Liberty University brand in the process,” stated Falwell.

In addition to being a reporter, Michael Gryboski has also had a novel released titled Memories of Lasting Shadows. For more information, click here.  

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