It could be said that the summer of 2012 was the time when Liberty University’s campus was born again.
Since the end of school last spring, more than $100 million in construction projects have gotten under way.
That is compared with $20-$25 million in Liberty construction projects during a “normal year.”
For Central Virginia tradesmen, particularly when the national economy is struggling and national unemployment lingers above 8 percent, that is extremely good news.
Right now, Liberty is an engine helping to drive Central Virginia’s economy.
“There are literally hundreds of people working from grading contractors, paving contractors, and construction and steel workers,” said Charles Spence, Liberty’s director of Planning and Construction. “They are working feverishly all the time. This is the busiest summer I’ve seen in my 27 years at the university.”
Liberty is in the throes of a plethora of new construction and improvements to its infrastructure, including parking lots and roads. It is also working diligently to make the campus more aesthetically pleasing while embracing Jeffersonian architectural design for its new and existing buildings.
The makeover runs the gamut of university facilities, including academic, administrative and residential buildings, and athletic venues.
In addition to its core campus, Liberty is making improvements to its recreational facilities, many of which reside several miles away in Campbell County.
“With the large number of resident students who remain on campus on weekends, it is imperative that a myriad of activities, facilities, and programs are in place to provide students an eventful opportunity to exercise, play, socialize, and compete if they choose,” said Liberty Executive Vice President Neal Askew. “These facilities provide a close, safe place to hone their skills for intramural teams, club sports, or just a chance to stay in shape. The closeness of the facilities also means students do not have to have private transportation to participate. A majority of our students are involved in these programs every semester, and Liberty will continue to meet these needs.”
Liberty is developing a community garden, which will teach students to manage a sustainable food production operation, and an observatory for stargazing.
As Liberty works to protect the mountain property and its natural resources, a 125- acre pine forest is now thriving after being replanted in 2008.
The school has set aside a couple hundred acres for an equestrian center, which opened last year; a golf driving range; and motocross track.
While the scope of Liberty’s operational campus is expanding, much of the campus’s acreage remains undisturbed and ready for recreational use.
In order to begin the process of building permanence into its campus, Liberty began razing multiple temporary buildings last spring that were built in the 1970s and 1980s. To defray the cost of deconstruction, Liberty sold metal and other material to recyclers.
The centerpiece of the campus redesign is the $50 million Jerry Falwell Library, which will allow students to search for books at a computer, with the chosen material delivered to the student’s study area by a robotic courier.
The new library will be next to an extensive lawn that will separate it from the Arthur S. DeMoss Learning Center, which has served as the academic nerve center for the campus over the past decade.
In fairly rapid succession over the next few years, single-story metal residence halls next to the academic quad will be replaced by midrise residence halls, which will take up less green space and allow the campus to have a more open feel.
Improvements to the campus road system have been designed to alleviate traffic congestion during peak hours around the academic campus.
Regents Parkway, which serves to move automobile traffic around the perimeter of campus, will be expanded and improved to encompass a campus road system on both sides of U.S. 460, a major arterial highway that passes through the heart of campus.
Dirt banks along the highway, which were cluttered with unkempt trees, have been removed to give passersby a bird’s eye view of the architecturally enhanced campus.
About 1,300 new parking spaces have been created this summer at perimeter locations. A shuttle bus service has been added to give students and employees relatively easy access to campus buildings.
“The campus of Liberty University will continue this transformation for several more years. We strive to fulfill our goal of becoming the world’s greatest evangelical Christian university without changing our mission of Training Champions for Christ,” Askew said. "Our methods can change and adapt with the changing world, but we vow to never change the message. We take our responsibility to bring honor and glory to Jesus Christ seriously, and we will always strive to keep Him at the forefront of Liberty University. God is truly blessing us daily all across His campus."