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Academic facility upgrades are high priority for LU

October 8, 2008 : Teresa Dunham

Liberty University is proud of its new Ultimate LU initiative to offer a wide variety of cutting-edge extracurricular activities — but Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. said LU will not sacrifice academics or spiritual life to make those projects a reality.

“Academics and spiritual life will always take priority over recreation,” he said Wednesday. “Liberty’s mission has always been to teach students not just how to make a living but how to live. And that includes every aspect of life: spiritual, academic, physical — body, mind and spirit.”

Liberty University is freezing enrollment at 11,500 for the next year or two to allow the school to focus on academic facility upgrades, he said.

LU spent over $10 million to fund more than 20 academic facility improvements this year alone, Falwell said. Among the projects funded in that budget were the new Towns-Alumni Lecture Hall, 45,000 square feet of library space on the third floor of the Arthur S. DeMoss Learning Center and new equipment and labs for several academic departments.

LU is also in the sixth year of an eight-year comprehensive pay increase plan for its faculty in order to attract and retain highly qualified educators, and the school is continuing to supply generous funding for missions trips, worship services and its spiritual life leadership team. The university provides one student to serve as a spiritual life leader for every five students on campus and brings in some of the world’s most dynamic Christian speakers for convocations three days each week.

By contrast, Falwell said, recreational enhancements, including the new indoor soccer complex and Snowflex — the year-round artificial ski slope anticipated to open in 2009 — are being constructed only as contributions are received for those projects. The total amount being spent on such projects is less than 30 percent of the amount spent on academic improvements during the same time period.

He emphasized that many of the facilities being constructed for Ultimate LU are covered by donations. A local alumnus is paying for construction of a $1.1 million indoor soccer facility, and the $2 million-plus Snowflex is being covered by an out-of-state donor. The new Tilley Student Center’s price tag of $284,000 was also partially covered by donors.