News & Events

February 20, 2015

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Bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fine arts now available

Students learn in a pottery class.The School of Communication & Creative Arts launched a Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) and a Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) program this semester. Two of the most prestigious degrees in the arts industries, these programs are initially being offered through the Department of Studio & Digital Arts (SADA). In both programs, students can pursue studies in two-dimensional art (with courses in photography, painting, and drawing), three-dimensional art (with courses in sculpting and ceramics), and graphic design (with courses in web design, print design, illustration, game design, and animation). The B.F.A. requires 127 credit hours and the M.F.A. 60 credit hours. Both degrees will be available online for the graphic design concentration this fall.

Students’ clothing designs gain international recognition

Recycled materials took center stage at the annual fashion show put on by Liberty University’s Department of Family & Consumer Sciences (FACS) last spring, and four of the top designs were selected to be shown at the International Textile & Apparel Association’s (ITAA) 2014 Annual Conference in Charlotte, N.C., Nov. 12-16, 2014.

Liberty students Melissa Breaux, Brianne Crist, Amy Yoon, and Tenzi Chacha were four of just 29 designers chosen from among hundreds of design professionals and students from universities across the world. The students’ designs, though made with “upcycled” materials, such as soda can tabs and duct tape, passed ITAA’s high industry standards when judged against non-recycled garments.

Alumna wins big on ‘Jeopardy!’

Alumna Catherine Hardee, a former Quiz Bowl MVP at Liberty, won four-straight episodes of “Jeopardy!,” which aired in September. She was finally defeated in her fifth appearance on the popular TV trivia show. In all, her winnings totaled $97,201.

Hardee graduated from Liberty with a bachelor’s degree in history in 2012 and completed her Master of Arts in History in May 2014.

Quiz Bowl team posts significant wins in fall season

Liberty University’s seven-time Big South Conference champion Quiz Bowl team notched its first-ever victory over an Ivy League opponent during a tournament at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) on Oct. 4, 2014. Liberty posted key wins over Virginia Tech (215-100), Virginia (140-80), and Pennsylvania (125-105).

In another tournament on Nov. 9, 2014, hosted by the University of Maryland, Liberty posted 13 victories over opponents, including the host team (305-155), and Johns Hopkins (360-65), American (350-65), the University of North Carolina (285-130), VCU (215-100), Georgetown (270-70), and Virginia Tech (200-195).

Biology students earn recognition for research

Amanda Hazy, Matthew Dalton, Nathan MacGilvary, and John Azra.

Grant recipients (from left) Amanda Hazy, Matthew Dalton, Nathan MacGilvary, and John Azra.

Two pairs of Liberty University students each received $500 research grants after presenting their studies related to Alzheimer’s disease during the Virginia Academy of Science’s Fall Undergraduate Meeting in October at Virginia State University (VSU) in Petersburg, Va. The meeting showcased 27 entries submitted from schools throughout the state, including Virginia Tech, Old Dominion, Virginia Military Institute, and VSU. Liberty students received two of the six research grants awarded at the competition. Liberty has been awarded a grant at the competition for each of the past three years.

Senior Amanda Hazy and junior Matthew Dalton presented a poster on gene expression and regulation, titled “Analysis of Differential mRNA and miRNA Expression in an Alzheimer’s Disease Mouse Model,” and explored how genes turning on and off in the brain can affect the disease. In a complementary report, junior Nathan MacGilvary and senior John Azra presented the early stages of a study titled “Using Bisulfite Sequencing to Determine Specific Ventilation Patterns in Gene Regions Related to Alzheimer’s Disease.”

A week later, senior Ryan Montalvo earned a first-place award in the afternoon poster session of the 17th annual Undergraduate Research Symposium in the Chemical and Biological Sciences, hosted by the University of Maryland Baltimore County. It was the first time Liberty presented at that competition, which included students from Delaware, George Mason, James Madison, Johns Hopkins, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee, among other universities. Montalvo’s presentation, titled “Competitive Inhibition Drives Unique Carbohydrate Metabolism and Motility of Escherichia Coli within the Intestine,” combined an infectious disease study with genome-sequencing and intestinal health.

Graduate wins grand prize in national history paper competition

Karissa Marken (’14) received the top honor —  the coveted George P. Hammond Paper Prize — in the Phi Alpha Theta (PAT) national history honor society’s 2014 National Paper Competition. She was awarded $500 as part of the grand prize.

Alumna Catherine Hardee (’14) earned one of two 2014 Nels Andrew Cleven Founder’s Paper Prizes, for which she received $400.

Marken and Hardee both graduated with M.A. degrees in History. They claimed two of the four prizes awarded in the national competition.

This is the fourth consecutive year that Liberty has had at least one winner in the competition at the graduate level, and it marks the first time a Liberty student has won the Hammond Prize.

Liberty adds two new schools

Last October, the Office of the Provost announced the formation of two new schools: the School of Nursing and the School of Behavioral Sciences.

The former Department of Nursing is now the School of Nursing. Liberty’s nursing program is one of the most comprehensive in its class and will be the largest school of nursing in the state of Virginia. It now offers bachelor’s through doctoral degrees and boasts nearly 4,000 on-campus and online students. Liberty’s nursing graduates are highly sought after not only for the quality of their clinical training (Liberty requires over 900 hours of hands-on experience compared with 800 hours or less at other schools), but also for their high levels of professionalism and Christlike compassion.

The new School of Behavioral Sciences was formed to accommodate the growing number of students studying in three of Liberty’s top majors — psychology, counseling, and sociology. Approximately 40,000 students are currently enrolled in courses that will fall under the new school. Liberty will also soon offer a number of new undergraduate and graduate degrees, including social work. A new doctoral degree in pastoral counseling is also actively being planned. Also, the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), a specialized accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), has just granted accreditation to Liberty’s Clinical Health Counseling (M.A.) program.

All programs under the two new schools were previously under the School of Health Sciences, which continues to offer studies in biology and chemistry, public health, exercise science, kinesiology, and health professions.

Hawkins named provost

Ron Hawkins

Ronald Hawkins

Dr. Ronald Hawkins has been named Liberty University’s provost. He served as interim provost following the retirement of Dr. Ronald Godwin in October.

Hawkins has held several positions at Liberty, including vice president for Academic Affairs and vice provost. He was dean of the College of Arts & Sciences from 2000-06 and has worked in the university’s counseling program. Hawkins has over 20 years of experience in mental health counseling, counselor training, and consulting. He is also the founding dean of Liberty’s new School of Behavioral Sciences, which was formed last fall.

Hawkins holds an Ed.D. in counselor education from Virginia Tech, a D.Min. from Westminster Theological Seminary, an Ed.S. from Lynchburg College, and an M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

Other Leadership Changes

Dea Britt

Dea Britt

Angela Rice

Angela Rice

Jim Molloy

Jim Molloy

Dr. Dea Britt, Ph.D., was named dean of the School of Nursing. She has been with the university for more than 20 years and has witnessed the program’s tremendous growth. Dr. Britt earned her doctorate at Virginia Tech and also holds an M.S.N. from the University of Virginia. She regularly participates in medical mission trips to Guatemala and Kazakhstan. Prior to the formation of the nursing school, Britt served as the chair of the Department of Nursing.

Jim Molloy was named dean of the Liberty University School of Aeronautics last semester. Molloy holds a Master of Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and is currently working on his Ed.D. at Liberty. A retired U.S. Air Force Colonel, Molloy served in a number of roles during a military career that spanned more than three decades. Following his years in the Air Force, he worked in curriculum development, instruction, and supervision for the Defense Intelligence Agency before joining the SOA in 2013. Throughout his military career, Molloy worked and lived in numerous countries and held diverse leadership positions in fields such as international relations, flight operations, instruction, and training.

Molloy replaces Dave Young, who now serves as the associate provost for aeronautics education at Liberty.

Angela Rice was appointed the new dean of the Jerry Falwell Library last fall, following the retirement of Marcy Pride. Rice holds a Master of Library Science degree from Syracuse University and has served at the library for the past two years, most recently as associate dean for planning, administration, and operations.

Since its opening last year, the 170,000-square-foot Jerry Falwell Library has benefitted both the Liberty academic community and the Central Virginia region. Largely due to Pride’s pioneering leadership, Rice is assuming responsibility for one of the nation’s most innovative academic libraries, offering a 24-by-11-foot media wall, a robotic delivery system, a four-story book tower, special meeting rooms, food services, and an abundance of study space.

Flight team claims 10th straight regional title

Liberty's flight teamFor the 10th year in a row, the Liberty University School of Aeronautics’ National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA) team won the Region X competition, held in October at Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport. The first-place finish gives Liberty an automatic entry into the NIFA SAFECON national championships, set for May 11-15 at Ohio State University Airport. Last spring at nationals, Liberty posted an all-time-best fifth-place finish.

The top three pilots at the Region X competition were all Liberty students — Daniel Hartman (143 points), who defended his top pilot award from last fall, Charity Holland (123 points), who also dominated the top-scoring female pilot competition, and Evan Thrams (102 points).

Liberty SOA-certified flight instructors Zach Floto, James Curry, and Sean Clayton were awarded co-coaches of the year for Region X.

Liberty hits records for academic year

Enrollment at Liberty last semester reached an all-time high, including a record 13,862 students studying on campus.

New student GPAs and honors program participation also hit a historical high and the university matched its record high for incoming SAT and ACT scores.

The surge in enrollment also includes the highest-ever number of students living on campus — more than 7,700.

Liberty remains the nation’s fifth largest university, the largest private, nonprofit university in the country, the largest university in Virginia, and the largest Christian university in the world.

 As Liberty continues its $500 million campus rebuilding, which includes more residence halls as well as new and upgraded academic, recreational, and athletic facilities, the university expects to reach a residential population of 16,000 within the decade.

Seminary expansions provide new opportunities

Steven Keith

Steven Keith

Timothy Chong

Timothy Chong

Liberty University Baptist Theological Seminary (LBTS) established two new centers last semester — the Center for Chaplaincy and the Center for Asian Ministries.

The Center for Chaplaincy is led by Dr. Steven Keith (Chap. Col. USAF Ret.) and helps advance Liberty’s efforts in the areas of military, health care, and community chaplaincy.

The Center for Asian Ministries is an expansion of the LBTS Korean Program, broadening its scope to all of Asia. Led by Dr. Timothy Chong, the center develops strong Asian communities on campus and works to take Liberty’s ministry training to Asian countries, furthering the cause of Christ worldwide.

In addition to these new centers, the seminary launched a lecture series for faculty to address cultural issues. The series is free and open to the public. This semester, lectures are scheduled for Feb. 12 (“Anti-Social Media: Communal Transformation and the Barriers of Technology,” by Drs. Chad Thornhill and Karen Swallow Prior); March 26 (Genocide and War in the Old Testament: Can we Trust the God of the Old Testament to Be Good?,” by Drs. Gary Yates and Don Fowler); and April 9 (“Scarlet Letter Topics: Sex Abuse and the Church,” by Drs. Victor Hinson and Boz Tchividjian). All events will take place from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Jerry Falwell Library’s Terrace Conference Room.

School of Law update

Liberty Law's Trial Team

Liberty Law’s Trial Team

After an eight-and-a-half-year tenure leading Liberty University School of Law, navigating it through both its initial and affirmation ABA-accreditation processes, and seeing the school reach its ten-year milestone of existence, Mathew Staver announced his resignation as dean of Liberty Law this past fall. Law professor Rena Lindevaldsen, associate dean for academic affairs and associate director of Liberty Center for Law and Policy is serving as interim dean while the school looks to fill Staver’s very large shoes.

Liberty Law’s Trial Team was invited to compete in the National Civil Trial Competition (NCTC), one of the country’s premier invitational trial competitions, at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, Calif., Nov. 14-16. The team was named a co-recipient of the 2014 NCTC Ethical Advocacy Award, which is given to the team voted most professional and ethical while competing.

Liberty’s Trial Team was selected from a field of 55 other law schools to compete against 15 of the best trial advocacy programs in the nation. Liberty posted a win over the University of Maryland and had the opportunity to face two of the top four teams, including eventual tournament champion Loyola.

Internship opportunities abound in nation’s capital; scholarships announced

Liberty University’s Washington Fellowship is one of the largest internship programs of its kind. Every spring, summer, and fall, about 25 students from various degree programs live on Capitol Hill while taking classes and working at an internship in their field.

Last fall, 18 Liberty students lived in Washington, D.C., just a few blocks from Congress. They interned in a variety of locations, including the U.S. House of Representatives, the Senate, the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the American Psychological Association. This semester, 29 students are participating in the fellowship, with internships ranging from the NCIS and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to The National Zoo and the International Justice Mission.

Bunmi Atewologun, Liberty’s first White House intern under the Obama Administration, is a 2013 graduate with a degree in international relations and public policy. She is currently working toward her M.B.A. at Liberty and interned last semester in the Office of the Chief Information Officer in the White House’s Executive Office of the President.

“It’s a great honor to even be able to work at the White House,” she said. “I feel like this internship is going to open so many doors.”

Atewologun said her education at Liberty helped set her apart in landing the internship, where she received invaluable on-the-job experience as she helped with day-to-day business tasks in the office.

Senior Jordan Blain, who is studying criminal justice with a minor in psychology, hopes to work in federal law enforcement one day. He was one of two Liberty students who completed an internship with the U.S. Secret Service last fall.

“The internship is huge; it’s definitely a foot in the door. I’m doing lots of networking, making lots of connections,” he said.

Blain added that his coursework at Liberty prepared him to step into the internship with confidence.

“I felt more than prepared (coming into the internship) — a lot more than other students at other universities, honestly, because of the diversity of Liberty’s classes and the relationships that faculty build with their students. All of the professors are amazing, so helpful, and they really care about their students.”

William Bickett, a senior currently pursuing a criminal justice degree with a minor in strategic intelligence, said his internship with the U.S. Marshals, specifically in the Investigative Operations Division, showed him the daily duties and expectations for a federal officer.

“You really get a feel for how the agency works, flows, and how everybody communicates,” he said. “(Working at) headquarters, I can really see the politics that are involved in federal law enforcement that you don’t see every day.”

Last semester, Dr. Brian Yates, dean of Liberty’s Center for Academic Support & Advising Services, announced that three $1,000 scholarships would be available to Washington Fellowship interns this spring. The scholarships were provided by Washington Intern Student Housing (WISH), the organization through which Liberty provides living arrangements for its interns.

Spring 2015 Convocation schedule

Past Convocation messages can be viewed at

This schedule includes Convocations occurring after publication date. The schedule is tentative and subject to change. Visit for the most up-to-date schedule.

2/4: Mattie Montgomery – Lead Singer of For Today
2/6: Mark Burnett – Television & Movie Producer
2/9: Praise & Worship (Global Focus Week)
Ghassan Thomas – Iraqi Pastor & Missionary
2/11: Clayton King (Global Focus Week) – Evangelist & President of Clayton King Ministries

Dr. John Strohman – South Dakota’s Assistant Attorney General & Liberty Adjunct Professor
2/13: Kirk Franklin (College For A Weekend) – Multi-Platinum Singer & Songwriter
2/16: Sean Lowe – Television Personality (“The Bachelor” & “The Bachelorette”)
2/18: Sean Hannity – FOX News Television Host, Political Commentator, Author
2/20: Scott Dawson – Evangelist & President of Scott Dawson Evangelistic Association
2/23: Brad Stine – Comedian, Actor, Author
2/25: Annie Murphy Paul – Award-Winning Journalist, TED-Talk Speaker, Author
2/27: Kevin Ezell (Church Planting Emphasis) – President, North American Mission Board
3/2: Prayer
3/4: Tullian Tchividjian –Senior Pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church
3/6: TBA
3/16: TBA
3/18: Duke Hergatt – Pastor & Speaker
3/20: Trey Gowdy – U.S. Congressman (R-S.C.)
Dr. Michael Hamlet – Senior Pastor of First Baptist North Spartanburg (S.C.)
3/23: Perspective with Terry McAuliffe – Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia
3/27: Dr. Robert Jeffress – Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas
3/30: Michael Jr. – Comedian
4/1: April Fools with Rush of Fools, Christian rock/contemporary band
4/3: Good Friday Reflection
4/8: Jon Acuff – Speaker, Consultant, Author
4/10: Matt Chandler (College For A Weekend) – Lead Pastor of Teaching at The Village Church (Dallas-Fort Worth)
Shane & Shane – Christian Worship Duo
4/13: Praise & Worship
4/15: TBA

4/17: David Nasser – Senior Vice President for Spiritual Development, Liberty University
4/20: Alternate Convocations*
4/22: TBA
4/24: Bob Goff – Lawyer, Humanitarian, Bestselling Author
Nichole Nordeman – Singer, Songwriter, Nine-Time Dove Award Winner

4/27: Student Fellowship: End of School Celebration
*Schools within the university host their own Convocations

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