Explore Article Categories

News & Events

Onward: Advancing the mission with Liberty University’s strategic plan

November 28, 2023

Since 1971, Liberty University’s mission has remained unchanged: Training Champions for Christ. This fall, Liberty embarked on an intentional, comprehensive, university-wide effort to ensure that all areas of the institution are well-equipped to take Liberty into the future while holding fast to its original mission.

Under the direction of President Dondi Costin, and in cooperation with all members of Liberty’s administration, faculty, and staff, the university has begun a multifaceted research, analysis, and goal-setting exercise that will culminate in the 2024-29 Strategic Plan, scheduled to be published by the end of the 2023-24 academic year.

Provost and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Scott Hicks is working with a core team to oversee the project. He said the university values input from all employees in this “genuinely community effort.”

“This planning process encompasses every constituency that ought to have a voice in Liberty University’s future,” he said, “from current students and family members, alumni, faculty, staff at every level, the Board of Trustees, and our generous supporters, plus the host of outside government agencies, civil entities, accrediting bodies, and higher education experts whose voice will help Liberty reach our full potential.”

“We will determine how to execute that plan, our marching orders, so we can successfully fulfill more and more of Dr. Falwell’s original vision. The mission doesn’t change. We always have and always will Train Champions for Christ, but our methods in this next season will be best suited for what lies ahead.”

— President Dondi Costin

A survey was disseminated to gather information from both inside and outside the Liberty community for the purpose of assessing Liberty’s status, identifying new opportunities to extend its reach as a leading institution of Christian higher education, and defining what it means to be a Champion for Christ.

As the data is being aggregated and analyzed and themes are solidified, Liberty will march forward with a shared vision and plan to navigate the cultural and higher education landscapes that continue to evolve. Preserving and securing Liberty’s distinct Christian culture is the top priority, with a dependency on God’s divine guidance for the future of the university that He has built.

“An effective strategic plan for any institution should include the fundamentals of organizational and operational best practices,” Costin said. “Liberty’s plan should do all that, of course, but it should be conducted in the unique context in which God has placed us.”

“Everything that the university does from the moment the Strategic Plan is published will be driven by this plan,” he continued. “We want to make sure we’re all on the same page as we march from where we are to where God wants us. The strategy portion is developing the path to get from here to there, leveraging the resources God has given us — for the good of others and the glory of God.”

The process comprises five phases: 1) Environmental Scan; 2) SWOT Analysis — identifying Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats; 3) Goals and Objectives; 4) Publication; 5) Action Plan. The full plan is expected to be completed by early spring and presented to Liberty’s Board of Trustees for review and final approval.

All departments across the university were involved in the first phase by conducting a thorough analysis of the internal and external factors that impact their operations, programs, and services. All employees were encouraged to actively influence the process through research and input on how they can play a unique role in the success of the university. The phase involved over 1,500 administrators, faculty, and staff who contributed over 5,800 hours and resulted in over 3,700 findings. As part of the SWOT Analysis, all members of the LU community and over 500 strategic partners were invited to take a survey on what defines a Champion for Christ.

Currently, the administration, faculty, and staff within each department are reviewing the emerging themes from the Environmental Scan findings and finalizing SWOT Analyses. They will then create specific, measurable goals and objectives as well as action plans to track progress.

Costin stressed the vital importance of the final phase, the Action Plan.

“Many organizations stop the process after the Strategic Plan is published, but the true measure of a plan’s success is not the pretty graphics or who quotes it down the road — it is the execution. We will determine how to execute that plan, our marching orders, so we can successfully fulfill more and more of Dr. Falwell’s original vision. The mission doesn’t change. We always have and always will Train Champions for Christ, but our methods in this next season will be best suited for what lies ahead.”

As Liberty’s new president, Costin emphasized that the current planning cannot be carried out without acknowledging the steadfast work of those who have led the university before him.

“We’re doing all of this on the shoulders of the giants who came before us — our founder, Dr. Jerry Falwell, who realized the vision; co-founder Dr. Elmer Towns; past presidents Dr. Pierre Guillermin, Dr. John Borek, and Jerry Falwell Jr.; and in the very significant interim period served by President Emeritus Jerry Prevo. I’m grateful for all of their work as we build upon the past and march into the future.”

He said he is confident in Liberty’s current leadership team, who have been charged to be both the “minders of the mission” and “keepers of the culture.”

“They have been handed the baton,” he said, “and we will run however many laps around the track we’ve been called to run. We hope when we hand the baton off to the next leadership team that we will have done our part to advance the university to the next level. Just as the previous leadership has set the conditions for future victories, with God’s help we hope to set up our successors for success.”

Get the e-magazine straight to your inbox!

It only takes a click to unsubscribe.