A sensational summer
Liberty’s campus stays busy with the Commonwealth Games and more
While students were gone, Liberty University’s campus buzzed with activity during the summer months.
Among those activities, the university received national recognition as Virginia’s first Purple Heart University, hosted the Virginia Commonwealth Games and auctioned off WFFP-TV for $23.1 million.
Purple Heart University
On July 27, Liberty was recognized by military service members for officially becoming the first Purple Heart University in the state of Virginia. The Purple Heart University designation is awarded by the Military Honor of the Purple Heart.
Retired U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Cheryl Anderson-McKenna, a military education coordinator with Liberty’s recruitment team, said Liberty has stepped forward by becoming a Purple Heart University.
“It just shows our military students that we really do care for them and support them,” McKenna-Anderson said.
“We’re not just military friendly, we’re military supportive.”
Ron Ramsdell, retired first sergeant and assistant director for military education development, said this recognition shows how those in service view the university.
According to Ramsdell, nearly 30,000 military students attend Liberty Online.
“I think it’s fantastic that Liberty University as a Christian organization has been given the opportunity to be a Purple Heart school simply because of the audience that Liberty represents,” Ramsdell said.
“I think it speaks not only about the school’s reputation, but how service members feel about the school.”
The university has designated its status by adding Purple Heart University signs on the campus and setting aside a parking spot for recipients of the Purple Heart.
Virginia Commonwealth Games
Along with being recognized as the first Purple Heart University in Virginia, Liberty also hosted the annual Virginia Commonwealth Games’ Main Game Weekend in July.
Virginia Commonwealth Games President Dan Foutz said numerous records were broken and participation grew as new games were added.
According to Foutz, the Commonwealth Games’ participation numbers continue to increase with over 10,000 participants this year.
Foutz said one thing that creates a positive experience for those who attend is the various facilities that Liberty offers.
“Everyone loves the facilities there at Liberty,” Foutz said.
“It’s been a very positive impact that we’ve gotten this year through the few surveys we have received.”
The Commonwealth Games are funded mainly through sponsorships to further their mission of providing events for people in the state of Virginia to participate in an environment that inspires health and wellness through education and training.
“We want to continue to post information, not just for the athletes but for coaches, parents and athletic directors of the schools,” Foutz said.
“We want to preserve the integrity of the next generation of athletes.”
TV Station Auction
The university also received $23.1 million in July from selling WFFP-TV in a Federal Communications Commission reverse auction that closed March 30.
The reverse auction gave Liberty the opportunity to sell the TV station’s spectrum rights and share a channel with a different station.
Spectrum rights are the TV station’s rights to exclusively broadcast wireless communications in a section of the range of radio frequencies.
Charles Meisch, a spokesman for the FCC, said the reverse auction, which opened March 29, 2016, allowed stations like WFFP-TV to reap revenue without losing the ability to broadcast.
“A reverse auction creates unique economic opportunity for stations without sacrificing air time,” Meisch said.
Randy Smith, Liberty’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, said he and President Jerry Falwell entered the auction hoping to gain at least $10 million.
Smith said consultants hired by the university estimated the spectrum was worth anywhere from $10 million to $60 million.
“The president and I spoke about it and decided that the TV station wasn’t being successful at all,” Smith said.
“It had no audience that was measurable. It had no revenue. It only had expenses.”
According to Meisch, the reverse auction was part of a larger auction facilitated by the FCC.
The year-long auction gave broadcast stations the ability to sell parts of the spectrum that cellular companies could then bid for in a forward auction.
During the third phase of the auction, the FCC froze the spectrum’s price at $23.1 million.
Smith credited Sandra Wagner, the general manager and vice president of operations for the Liberty Channel, for managing the day-to-day operations of the auctions and accepting and rejecting bids.
Smith said he is in talks with three local stations who could potentially share their channel with WFFP-TV.
Liberty also has the option of sharing with its second TV channel, WLHG-CD.
“Almost everyone who watches us watches us on cable or satellite,” Smith said.
“Around 93 percent of the market here has either cable or satellite. So our main thing is we want to make sure we’re able to get a signal out to the cable and satellite. And we’ll do that through channel sharing.”
Last year, WFFP-TV aired 172 Liberty Flames sporting events along with Convocation.
CONLEY is a news writer.
COVEY is the asst. news editor.