Liberty University continues to bring speakers of global significance in from every sphere of society to address its student body in a thrice-weekly Convocation — the largest weekly gathering of Christian young people in the world.
In September, Liberty welcomed celebrity real estate mogul and television personality Donald Trump for the most highly anticipated Convocation to date. This March, NFL standout Tim Tebow will take the stage during his first visit to Liberty. Popular Christian hip-hop artist LeCrae and former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee are also on the slate for Convocation this spring.
Trump’s speech was presented to more than 10,000 in a packed Vines Center, shown at two satellite locations, broadcast live on the Liberty Channel, and available to more than 80,000 Liberty University Online students via the recently deployed Online Communities website, making it the largest Convocation audience ever.
“All over the world they are talking about it — Liberty University, what they’ve done and in such a short time,” Trump told the masses. He went on to comment on the success of Liberty under Chancellor Falwell’s direction, “I see the way Liberty University has been run. I’ve seen where you came from, and how it was a struggle, and how it is right now. Our country has the same potential, if we ever wanted to do something about it.”
Trump follows a long line of influential speakers to take the podium at Convocation, including former Sen. Ted Kennedy in the 1980s. In the last few years alone, Liberty has welcomed prominent figures ranging from the creator of “Veggie Tales” to the CEO of Walmart U.S., Hollywood legends, former NFL players, presidential candidates, and influential pastors.
Liberty’s commitment to traditional American values draws a number of political figures every year. For that very reason, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has visited Liberty several times since his 2007 Commencement speech and 2010 Convocation message.
Many speakers enjoy touring campus during their visit, exploring its many amenities, like the new Hancock Welcome Center and Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre, Liberty’s year-round ski and snowboarding facility. Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. often shares then-and-now photographs, taking them through the university’s rich history and sharing his vision for its future. With so many construction projects under way, first-time speakers are impressed by the rapid pace at which Liberty is growing. And for those who have been here before, the campus is never exactly the same as they remember it.
“There is always some new building, new program, something new going on. Liberty is rapidly becoming a major force and growing around the world,” Gingrich said.