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History of Liberty

Through those founding years, students and faculty were inspired to influence the moral and ethical course of America. Subsequently, the school’s name officially changed to Liberty Baptist College in 1976 and the colors were changed to red, white, and blue. The college achieved accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges in 1980.

By 1985, the school had become recognized as an accredited university, adding programs and garnering recognition from both mainstream culture and the world of academia. Liberty also pioneered a distance learning program that year, launching what is now known as Liberty University Online.

With the passing of the founder in 2007, his son, Jerry Falwell Jr., became chancellor and president of the university. At the 2007 Commencement ceremony, just days after his father’s passing, then Chancellor Falwell proclaimed, “We have prepared for this transition for 15 years or more. All is well at Liberty.”

Liberty’s journey has been one of facing giants, making the impossible possible, watching fervent prayer move mountains, and Training Champions for Christ.

Then & Now

Then & Now


Standing on the shoulders of more than two millennia of Christian scholarship, Liberty University emphasizes the pursuit of knowledge in every discipline. A world-class liberal arts university with 15 schools and colleges, Liberty offers more than 700 programs from the certificate to the doctoral level ranging from medicine, biology, chemistry, and engineering to design, music, religion, law, and more.

Founded in 1971 in Lynchburg, Va., Liberty has grown from a small college of 154 students into a university with a residential student body of over 15,000. Preparing students to be doctors, educators, ministers, lawyers, aviators, counselors, engineers, and more, Liberty is committed to developing tomorrow’s leaders — men and women of character whose impact will extend beyond their professions to change the world around them. 

Our Founder

Dr. Jerry Falwell

Aug. 11, 1933 - May 15, 2007

In June of 1956, at the age of 22, Jerry Falwell started Thomas Road Baptist Church in his hometown of Lynchburg, Va., with 35 members. Also in 1956, Falwell began the “Old Time Gospel Hour,” a nationally syndicated radio and television ministry that has led millions to Christ.

In 1967, Falwell implemented his vision to build a Christian educational system for evangelical youth. He began with the establishment of Lynchburg Christian Academy, an accredited Christian day school for grades K-12 . In 1971, he founded Liberty University, an accredited Christian university for evangelical believers. In 1985 Falwell announced his goal of 50,000 students.

Today his vision has been fulfilled, with more than 15,000 students attending classes on campus in Lynchburg, Va., and more than 94,000 students taking courses through Liberty University Online.

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University Timeline

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