Liberty Journal

Academic News

Fall 2012 : Liberty University News Service

Liberty receives exceptional news from accrediting agency

Liberty University recently received notice from its accrediting agency, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, that its Fifth-Year Interim Report was fully accepted with “no additional reporting” requested.

Dr. Ron Godwin, Liberty’s senior vice president for Academic Affairs and provost, said requesting no additional reporting is rare for an institution. He said only one or two schools a year receive a fully accepted report. For example, in years past Liberty University itself has been asked for as many as 80 additional reports.

“Often recommendations are made; so to receive the response with no further reports requested is exceptional and a blessing,” Godwin said. “We are immensely proud of the work that our deans, department heads, assessment coordinators, and their faculty contributed to achieving this great result. It was literally a university-wide effort extending over at least a year and a half, with thousands of man hours invested, and all of that resulted in the best SACS letter Liberty has ever received.”

While SACS requires an even more rigorous self-study report every 10 years, schools must also complete a report every five years, proving they have met 17 of the most demanding Principles of Accreditation, which include every aspect of the university’s operation, from academic programs to financial aid, administrative leadership, and student services — for its residential and online programs.

The response from SACS not only means Liberty is meeting the most challenging standards, but puts the school in a favorable position as it heads toward completion of its full compliance report — composed of responses to 96 standards — that must be submitted in September 2015.

Liberty University was first accredited by SACS in 1980. In 2009, Liberty received Level VI accreditation, the highest classification from SACS reserved for colleges and universities that offer four or more doctoral degrees. (Read the full story.)


Aeronautics dean named to state board

Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Dave Young, dean of the Liberty University School of Aeronautics, was recently appointed by Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell to serve on the Virginia Aviation Board.

Young will represent Region 5, which covers the City of Lynchburg, as well as Campbell, Appomattox, Pittsylvania, Nottoway, Prince Edward, and Halifax counties. Board members serve four-year terms.

Young served as Liberty’s executive vice president and chief operating officer before joining the aviation program in 2002. He previously served on the Lynchburg Regional Airport Commission and was named Virginia Aviation Person of the Year in 2008. (Read the full story.)


Liberty Channel expands its reach across multiple platforms

The Liberty Channel, Liberty University’s in-house television network, is now available to an even wider audience.

The station is available in local cable packages with Comcast (Channel 10) and Shentel (Channel 12), as well as digitally on Channel 43.1 and 43.2. It can also be viewed nationally through Sky Angel IPTV (Channel 132), as well as anytime on a live web stream at and on the new Liberty Today mobile app, a free download on iPhone, Android, and Blackberry devices as well as iPad, Kindle and other leading tablet brands.

The station is available in high definition (HD) on Channel 43.1, and Liberty is working with the local cable providers to switch to its HD signal.

The Liberty Channel has something for everyone, from family-friendly movies every Saturday night, to live and pre-recorded Liberty athletics events, church services, concerts, children’s programming and special Liberty events, including Convocation.

The station plans to air more original Liberty content produced by School of Communication students, giving those students unique and rare opportunities to gain real-world experience. (Read the full story.)


Liberty students shine at Virginia Academy of Science annual meeting

Three students of Liberty University’s Department of Biology and Chemistry earned first-place awards at the Virginia Academy of Science annual meeting at Norfolk State University, May 23-25.

Liberty’s participants, all undergraduates, beat out other undergraduate and graduate students from across the state, including The College of William & Mary, Virginia Tech, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Hampden-Sydney College. Students presented their research through either presentations or poster formats.

Recent graduate Courtney McKenzie won Best Student Presentation for microbiology/ molecular biology, and recent graduate Rebecca Garrett won Best Student Poster in the same category. Their research was titled, “Global Characterization of DNA Methylation Patterns in an Alzheimer ’s Disease Model.”

Mike Canfarotta, who was a sophomore at the time of competition, won Best Student Poster for biology. His project was titled “Mouse Colonization by Citrobacter rodentium.”

“We are extremely proud of these students,” said Dr. David DeWitt, professor and chair of Liberty’s Department of Biology and Chemistry. “The research awards they won attest to the quality of our science programs at Liberty University and the hard work of our students and faculty. Awards like this go a long way to dispel the mistaken notion that Bible-believing Christians can’t do quality science.” (Read the full story.)


Government students receive hands-on intelligence training in nation’s capital

Liberty University students from the Helms School of Government traveled to Washington, D.C., this summer for a unique pilot course, Surveillance and Surveillance Detection, the first of its kind offered at any university.

The students spent 12 days (May 28-June 8) in the D.C. area learning the art of surveillance and surveillance detection from retired and former intelligence community personnel.

The teaching environment was unconventional, as the students learned from intelligence officers by walking, mapping, and understanding the streets of D.C. to conduct the assignments correctly. Several exercises were performed throughout the day, many independently. The students had two textbooks to read prior to beginning the class, a final exam, a term paper, and professional evaluation of their field activities.

The class was taught from such an applicable and practical way that another intelligence agency actually picked up on what the students were doing and started following them around to see their work.

Dr. Charles Murphy, who developed the course, said he plans to follow the necessary steps to move the course from a pilot course to become a permanent course, and to offer it again next summer. (Read the full story.)


Ad/PR students claim top two spots in Collegiate Effie competition

Advertising and public relations students in Liberty University’s Department of Communication Studies continued to shine in competitions this year, earning the top two spots at the Collegiate Effie Awards in New York, N.Y.

The team of Curran Adelman and Janique Byrd won first place in the Collegiate Effie Awards’ MINI USA Brand Challenge for their campaign, “Innovation: Worth a Double Take.”

The team of Kim Soward and Paula Tan were runners-up in the competition, giving Liberty the top two finishes.

A few days after graduation Liberty’s students were flown to New York where they, along with the other finalists, had the opportunity to present their campaigns to industry leaders and executives.

The competition is hosted by Effie Worldwide (“Effie” is short for effectiveness), and was founded by the American Marketing Association to educate and encourage effectiveness in the marketing communication industry.

Liberty also took third place in its district in the National Student Advertising Competition. (Read the full story.)

Earlier this year, alumna Keri Cook (’12) was named Student of the Year by PRWeek, a weekly trade magazine for the public relations industry. Liberty had two teams win first and second place at the 2012 John Caples International Awards in March.


Liberty and iTunes U give students course access on the go

Staying on the cutting edge of education, Liberty University’s Center for the Advancement of Faculty Excellence (CAFE) has created more than 150 Liberty University Online courses for iTunes U.

“Liberty University is delivering academic excellence with biblical integration from some of the best professors in the discipline to multiple audiences,” said Dr. David Brown, associate director of CAFE. “This is just another form of getting the message of Christ and His creation to the world by every possible means.”

With iTunes U, students can access course content for Liberty Online’s over 100 degree programs free of charge, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. A new iTunes app, announced in January, allows students to watch or listen to lectures, read books, view presentations, and check off a list of assignments as they are completed.

Through iTunes U, prospective students and parents have the opportunity to view a course’s layout and workload ahead of time, listen to lectures, plan ahead for a class, or simply see what makes Liberty different from other institutions.

For example, people can compare world literature classes at Liberty and Yale University, Brown said, finding that “Liberty integrates biblical teaching in its course.”

Brown said iTunes U allows any student who already enrolled to take their course content on the go.

A student is able to use his or her iOS (Apple’s mobile operating system) device and tap a link via their Blackboard course that would subscribe them to the iTunes U course. From there they could download videos or audio files to their portable device and listen at any time.

“The military student that may have limited access to a computer can download his or her lectures and can listen from any place in the world at any time,” Brown said.

Brown said Liberty’s iTunes U courses are collectively receiving about 105,000 hits and 33,000 user downloads a week on average. Liberty has offered videos and podcasts through iTunes U since 2006. (Read the full story.)


Study shows Liberty’s financial strength among nation’s colleges

A recent study shows Liberty University is among the nation’s financially sound colleges and universities.

The report, “The financially sustainable university,” conducted by Bain & Company and Sterling Partners and written by Jeff Denneen and Tom Dretler, broke institutions into three categories: financially unsustainable, at risk, and financially sound.

Those deemed unsustainable had “more liabilities, higher debt service, and increasing expense without the revenue or the cash reserves to back them up,” according to the report. Schools that are considered top-ranked institutions and have large endowments are less at risk, it reads.

The study showed that while Liberty was determined to be financially sound, approximately one-third of all colleges and universities have financial statements that are significantly weaker than they were several years ago.

“The Christian Post” dove further into the study and found Liberty was one of seven Christian institutions to make the list of financially sound schools (read the full article at

Liberty’s financial outlook continues to show promise. The university marked its initial public bond in December 2010 when it issued $120 million worth of tax-exempt education facilities bonds. In January, Liberty announced its second IPO, this time in the corporate bond market selling $100 million of taxable bonds. Standard & Poor’s rated Liberty’s bonds ‘AA,’ as they did the tax-exempt bonds in 2010; Moody’s Investors Service rated Liberty for the first time this year, assigning the taxable bonds an ‘A1’ rating. The ratings place Liberty among the nation’s university elites for financial strength.

This year Liberty will become the youngest American university to reach $1 billion in net assets, guaranteeing that it will be able to fulfill its mission of Training Champions for Christ for generations to come.


Law students visit Supreme Court in unique D.C. experience

A group of 18 students from Liberty University School of Law took a special trip to Washington, D.C., on June 4, where they were granted reserved seating for a session of the U.S. Supreme Court and a private audience with Justice Antonin Scalia.

The students are members of the Liberty Counsel externship program and constitutional litigation clinic.

Following the court session, the courtroom was cleared out and Liberty’s party was invited back for a private meeting with Scalia. According to Dean Mat Staver, Scalia spoke about the importance of our government not being our Bill of Rights, but the division of power, because our Constitution diffuses power so that one branch cannot become all-powerful. Scalia held a Q-and-A session for the students.

The group was then taken on a private tour of the Supreme Court, after which they met with retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William “Bill” Suter, who serves as clerk of the Supreme Court, managing all the administration and docket cases. Suter spoke on the importance of leadership and extolled the virtues of Liberty’s law school. He also held a Q-and-A session for the students before they continued on to a guided tour of the Capitol. (Read the full story.)


School of Aeronautics acquires Cessna aircraft

The Liberty University School of Aeronautics recently acquired its first new aircraft that is 100 percent owned by the university.

The Cessna 172SP G1000 Skyhawk was purchased directly from Cessna Aircraft Company. With the tail number N701LU, it is the first of the “700 series” that will be used to identify all planes from the School of Aeronautics.

John Marselus, associate dean for flight operations, said the Cessna purchase is another sign that the aeronautics program is exceeding expectations. When he arrived in the summer of 2010, there were 90 students on the flight line; in January 2012, there were more than 180.

The honor of the plane’s first official training flight went to Lindsey Gray (instructor and graduate of the aircraft mechanic program) and Megan Grupp, a sophomore from Kodiak, Alaska, studying missionary aviation.

Shortly after its purchase, the plane was put into action when senior Jacob Hilt from Charlton, Mass., and instructor Nathan Edwards assisted with a search and rescue for an aircraft that went down over Amherst County, Va., while they were on a routine training mission. (Read the full story.)


Liberty University en Español celebrates first graduate, boost in enrollment

When Liberty University en Español was launched in the fall of 2011, the bilingual program was hoping to make inroads with the Hispanic community. Now it is celebrating its first graduate and has tripled enrollment in one year.

Javier Pimentel, a lay minister at Woodlands Church in The Woodlands, Texas, received his Associate of Arts Degree in Religion in May.

He is the first graduate of Liberty University en Español. He attended Liberty’s Commencement in May.

Pimentel has led the way for more than 300 students who are enrolled in the program for the fall, a 200 percent increase from 99 students enrolled in 2011.

“Our Liberty University en Español faculty and staff are very proud of seeing students like Mr. Pimentel achieve their academic dreams,” said Orlando Lobaina, executive director of Liberty en Español.

“We know every student in our bilingual program has other responsibilities, and achieving a degree in an online format gives them the flexibility to accomplish their goals. We look forward to a larger group of Latino students graduating from our online bilingual programs next year.”

Pimentel is one of five graduates who received their degrees through Liberty en Español this past academic year; he was the first to apply for graduation.

Liberty en Español offers accredited bilingual programs from the associate to master’s level, all within a Christian worldview taught by fully bilingual professors and staff. With 12 unique programs of study, students can explore degrees in the fields of business, religion, ministry, psychology, counseling, criminal justice, education, and paralegal studies. It recently debuted a new certificate program in biblical studies entirely in Spanish.

Pimentel currently works for Kerry Shook Ministries, a worldwide television ministry with his church, and is certainly not finished with his education through Liberty. He immediately began work on his bachelor’s degree in psychology and life coaching with a minor in church ministries, which he will complete this fall. He hopes to begin his Master of Divinity through Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary next spring and earn his Ph.D. in counseling soon after.


Liberty University Hosts 2012 Civil War Seminar

Liberty University will present its 16th annual Civil War Seminar, “1862—The Rise of Lee and Grant,” Friday, Sept. 28-Sunday, Sept. 30, at Liberty University School of Law.

The event will spotlight several lectures from nationally renowned authors, presentations of papers by scholars from around the country, and an online simulation of the Battle of Antietam by teams of high school and college students. Special tours are planned of the National Civil War Chaplains Museum on Liberty’s campus in the afternoons.

Numerous exhibits of Civil War artifacts and memorabilia will be displayed for the public and vendors will have various Civil War items for sale.

The seminar concludes with a special period church service at Liberty’s prayer chapel, led by the Rev. Alan Farley of Re-enactor’s Missions for Jesus Christ.

The event is free to all middle, high school, college, and home-schooled students. For more information, including times, go to


Liberty Online now 80,000 strong (and rising)

On Monday, June 11, Liberty University Online enrollment reached 80,000 students. Thanks to this stride in its thriving online education program, Liberty has strengthened its standing as the nation’s seventh largest four-year university, largest private, nonprofit, four-year college and the largest college in Virginia.

A special reception was held the following day to celebrate the landmark and the people who made it happen.

“When we reach milestones like this we never forget the dedication, the perseverance of every single person involved,” said Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. to the employees. “Every phone call you make is important. Every time you interact with somebody you potentially are changing their lives forever.”

Falwell said Liberty Online is exceeding its goals for this year as it continues to grow at a rapid rate.

Liberty is poised to hit 100,000 students enrolled this year. (Read the full story.)


Nursing adds new certificate program

Liberty University’s new Maternal-Child Critical Care Certificate Program through the Department of Nursing gives students with a passion for critical care of mothers and babies increased knowledge that will strengthen their skill set as they enter the field.

The department ran a pilot course in the Spring 2012 semester with eight students. Three of those students were offered jobs from their clinical work at the University of Virginia Health System. The program officially opened this fall. The spring 2013 class already is filled to its 12-student capacity and has a waiting list.

Mary Highton, assistant professor of nursing and the maternal-child coordinator, said the course should give students hoping to work in critical care an advantage because they will already have certificates in certain programs they will eventually need when they become nurses.

“It kind of puts them ahead of the game,” she said. “Most of these students are very assertive, they are critical-thinking nurses. (The course) just meets their appetite for more education and information.”

The course features many speakers who work or have worked in the field and certifies the students in Pediatric Advanced Life Support with the option for additional certification in the Advanced Cardiac Life Support and Neonatal Resuscitation Program.

Though the academic rigor of Liberty’s nursing department alone is challenging enough, students of the new certificate program log an extra 144 clinical hours on top of their required clinicals.

The program is modeled after the university’s Critical Care Certificate Program that started about five years ago to accommodate students interested in any form of critical or emergency care. The program was initially offered to 12 students and now welcomes up to 18 each semester, and is usually filled to capacity.

Both certificate programs are unique in that few, if any, of this kind exist at other institutions, according to Critical Care Certificate Program Manager Shanna Akers, assistant professor of nursing and director of the RN-BSN online program.

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