Apr 4, 2006

Campus growth

by Hilary Dyer

In the past five years Liberty University has experienced a rapid growth rate. In order to accommodate the growing student body, the university has had to take some drastic measures, including the construction of new dormitories, classrooms and other facilities, the hiring of more faculty and staff and enhanced efforts by theuniversites spiritual life leaders.

Jerry Falwell Jr. said that in a recent conversation with a 2002 LU graduate, the graduate couldn’t believe how different Liberty seemed now because of all the new buildings and other changes. In regard to whether the university would continue its current rate of growth, Falwell Jr. said, “It is hard to say whether the physical changes on campus will be as dramatic over the next 10 years as they have been over the last five years, but the changes will be significant.”

Director of Field Operations J.O. Renalds said that they are currently most concerned with dealing with traffic and parking issues.

More specifically, the university hopes to construct several new roads to improve traffic flow.

“A road will be built between the Worthington Baseball Stadium to connect the David’s Place parking lot with the Reber-Thomas parking lot, continuing through the ravine below the Vines Center to the Dorm Circle,” said Falwell Jr.

He also said that the university is working with officials from the Virginia Department of Transportation and Campbell County on a plan that would link the road in front of Campus East (Liberty Mountain Drive) to U.S. Hwy. 29 close to Lynchburg Regional Airport. There will also be the addition of two new tunnel accesses to Wards Road, one for vehicles, the other for pedestrians. In order to assist students without cars, Falwell Jr. said, “We are also working with city officials to establish a shuttle bus system between campus and local destinations. An on-campus shuttle is also being seriously considered.”

With the university planning on maintaining a steady increase in the student population, there is the obvious need of additional housing. Falwell Jr. said the university is planning on building five dorms within the next year. They are also considering the possibility of building two high rise buildings, in replacement of the men’s dormitories, 1, 14, 15 and 16. In addition to accommodating student’s living facilities, the university recognizes the need for more recreational services, and plans on developing a better trail system on Liberty Mountain for student use.

More students also mean a need for more classrooms. There will be seven new classrooms built in Campus North. Within the next five years, construction on the third and fourth floors of DeMoss Hall should be finished. More classrooms will allow the university to hire more faculty. “Liberty will improve its academic programs by hiring only the most qualified new faculty members,” said Falwell Jr. Students should also expect to see the expansion of available academic programs, which would include a graduate school of business.

Liberty University also plans on the expansion of intercollegiate athletics. Falwell Jr. said this may include a swim team, and that “certain club sports, like hockey, plan to become team sports.” The football team will also be proceeding towards its goal of NCAA Division 1-A status. As with the other athletic programs, this means a higher level of performance, which would draw dedicated fans. Dedicated fans would, in turn, help the teams to become financially self-sufficient.

Finances are of great concern to the university. None of these plans can be accomplished without the necessary funds. According to Liberty University’s “Five Year Strategic Plan,” most of the school’s funds come in the form of tuition and fees. Falwell Jr. said, “One of the university’s most important goals over the next decade will be to build a strong endowment. As a young school, Liberty has a huge responsibility to build its endowment from scratch with the goal of one day achieving the value of $1 billion.”

Contact Hilary Dyer at hadyer@liberty.edu.

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