Liberty University acquired a local hotel and conference center on Friday.
Lynchburg Inn and Conference Center on Odd Fellows Road, formerly a Ramada Inn, will serve as an educational center for the school’s growing Distance Learning Program.
About 27,000 people from around the world are currently taking advantage of Liberty’s online classes, and those numbers continue to climb by the thousands.
For a more personal and accelerated touch, approximately 3,000 online students came to the campus for a few one-week “intensives” to round out their education this year – but the program is outgrowing the space available on campus.
The hotel’s 12 conference classrooms could accommodate up to 7,000 students for intensives – and some of those students could stay at the 240-room hotel, which will continue to be rented out to the public.
“Liberty University is excited about this opportunity to expand its DLP programs,” said Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr.
LU plans to lease the hotel from a local business owner for the first year, Falwell Jr. said. There is a strong possibility that the hotel could be donated to the school after that.
It’s going to be a win-win for both Liberty and local businesses, he said.
“The net impact on local hotel business will be positive because we’re going to be bringing in a lot more [students] than we can house,” said Falwell Jr. “We don’t think it’s going to take business away from local hotels because the students that will be coming here to take intensives are students who would not have been coming otherwise.”
Plus the hotel’s current employees will have job security.
“We’re keeping the existing staff in place. It will still be serving the local community, but it will be available for all of our special events,” said Falwell Jr., adding that the school’s food supplier, Sodexho, will manage the venture.