The late Dr. Jerry Falwell, founder of Liberty University, once said, “We believe that God is going to help us build the greatest Christian school in the world.” Part of that vision was having 50,000 students taking classes through LU.
Today the enrollment vision has been realized. When the spring semester got under way in January, more than 50,000 students were taking classes on LU’s campus in Lynchburg, Va., and through Liberty University Online. There are currently nearly 12,000 residential students and more than 45,000 online students – through early February a total of 57,371 students were enrolled.
“Dad originally had a goal of 5,000 students,” said Chancellor and President Jerry Falwell, Jr. “Elmer Towns [Liberty co-founder and dean of the School of Religion] has often told the story about how that vision changed almost overnight when my father suddenly declared that Liberty would one day enroll 50,000 students. He revised the vision slightly due to technological advances in education delivery methods. Over the last few years, we have seen online delivery methods become even more popular.”
Chancellor Falwell said that when his father died in May 2007, his dad’s vision for LU was to enroll 25,000 online students and 25,000 residential students.
Founded in 1971 as Lynchburg Baptist College by Dr. Falwell and Towns, the school began with 154 students. Classes were held in the Thomas Road Baptist Church Sunday school classrooms.
|Students painted the "spirit rock" on campus after Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. made the announcement in convocation.|
LU has seen steady growth over the years with its student population, but has seen a boom in recent years both on campus and online. LU Online had about 27,000 students enrolled in May 2008 — that number has grown by nearly 20,000 in less than two years.
“If our entire student body tried to gather at the Vines Center, we would need a facility seven times that size. We’d have to rent out Dodgers Stadium,” said Chancellor Falwell.
Now that one of Dr. Falwell’s visions has been fulfilled, Falwell Jr. continues to focus on the future.
“We’re now the world’s largest Christian university,” he said. “We’ve been blessed here with so much, and we’re excited about what the future holds.”