President of Liberty University
Dondi E. Costin, Ph.D.
Major General, U.S. Air Force (Retired)
President, Liberty University
Dr. Dondi Costin began serving as Liberty University’s sixth president on July 1, 2023. He returned to Liberty, his alma mater, after five years as president of Charleston Southern University. He is a retired Major General with more than 32 years of commissioned service in a military career that culminated as a senior leader in the Pentagon, where he served as the eighteenth Air Force Chief of Chaplains.
Dr. Costin is a native of Wilmington, N.C., and was commissioned a second lieutenant upon graduation from the United States Air Force Academy in 1986. He then served successively as an industrial engineer evaluating air-to-ground precision guided munitions, chief of scientific analysis on a major command headquarters staff, and assistant professor of aerospace studies at Texas Christian University. After ten years as a line officer, he became an Air Force chaplain in 1996.
An ordained Southern Baptist minister, he was endorsed by the Liberty Baptist Fellowship during his 22 years as a chaplain. His chaplain assignments included service as Air Force Basic Military Training chaplain, senior flightline chaplain for both special operations and conventional forces in England, readiness instructor/evaluator preparing Chaplain Corps personnel for worldwide deployment, Air Staff branch chief, wing chaplain in Germany, senior chaplain for the air component mission in Southwest Asia, senior chaplain for Pacific Air Forces, and Air Force Chief of Chaplains.
As Chief of Chaplains, he established guidance and provided advice on all matters pertaining to the religious and moral welfare of Air Force personnel and their families. He led an Air Force Chaplain Corps of 2,000 chaplains and Religious Affairs Airmen and was the senior pastor for more than 664,000 personnel. As chairman of the Armed Forces Chaplain Board, he advised the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff on religious, ethical, and quality-of-life concerns for the entire U.S. military.
He assumed the presidency of Charleston Southern University (CSU) immediately following his military career. The university flourished as an unapologetically Christian university under Costin’s leadership, which featured a visionary strategic plan, the university’s award-winning response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, and recognition as the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce’s 2022 Business of the Year.
Dr. Costin helped launch the university’s first two doctoral programs, the state’s only four-year aviation program, an engineering department consisting of three engineering concentrations, the Dewey Center for Chaplaincy, and the Strack Center for Global Leadership and Ministry. Costin also oversaw construction of the first residence hall in 30 years, a state-of-the-art engineering and science building, a world class addition to the health science building, a new student center, renovation of the CSU campus store, expansion of the campus coffee shop, and the finest private university intramural complex in South Carolina.
Under his leadership, the Limitless Campaign set CSU records for annual giving, one-year campaign giving, and Giving Day totals, while establishing the Hans A. Nielsen College of Business as CSU’s first named college. In addition, new student enrollment increased 20 percent during his tenure, and CSU Athletics enjoyed its best year in university history, finishing third in the Big South Conference Sasser Cup competition while attaining a 3.23 student-athlete cumulative GPA. He also served as president of the Big South Conference during his tenure at Charleston Southern.
Dr. Costin earned a Bachelor of Science degree in operations research from the United States Air Force Academy and graduate degrees from Liberty University (M.A. in counseling), Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary (M.A. in religion), Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Air Command and Staff College (Master of Military Operational Art and Science), Air War College (Master of Strategic Studies), and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (D.Min in evangelism and church growth; Ph.D. in leadership).
Dr. Costin has also received the U.S. Jaycees Ten Outstanding Young Americans Award and the Military Chaplains Association Distinguished Service Award as Air Force Chaplain of the Year, led his chapel team to recognition as the Air Force Outstanding Large Chapel Organization of the Year, was twice named one of Charleston’s 50 Most Influential People, has been recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and was commissioned as a Colson Fellow in 2023.
His military awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Gallant Unit Citation, Kosovo Campaign Medal, three Afghanistan Campaign Medals, Korean Defense Service Medal, and NATO Medal.
He has been married to Vickey for 34 years. Vickey earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree from The University of Southern Mississippi and a Master of Education degree from Texas Christian University. Her career as a public elementary school music teacher spanned more than 23 years and included teaching assignments in six states.