Last semester, Liberty University appointed Dr. Ed Hindson as the new dean of the School of Religion. Hindson has served at Liberty for more than 20 years, including the past 14 years as a distinguished professor of religion.
Hindson holds doctoral degrees from the University of South Africa, Westminster Theological Seminary, and the Trinity Graduate School of Theology. He has master’s degrees from Grace Theological Seminary and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is also a fellow of the International Biographical Association, Cambridge, England.
Hindson has served in a number of leadership roles in ministry and Christian education. He has spoken at churches all over the country and has lectured at a number of prestigious universities, including Westminster Theological Seminary, Harvard Divinity School, and Oxford University’s constituent Balliol College.
For the past 13 years Hindson has been the featured speaker on “The King is Coming,” an international television program. He has authored 40 books, edited five study Bibles (including the best-selling King James Version study Bible in the world), and is a winner of the Gold Medallion for excellence in Christian authorship.
“I really believe in what the School of Religion means to the wider institution,” Hindson said. “The core competencies in Bible, theology, and evangelism have always been part of the real heart, passion, and soul of Liberty. It has made us unique and distinct from many other Christian institutions.”
Joining Hindson is Dr. Mark Allen, who was named chairman of the Theology Department for the School of Religion in July. Allen holds a doctorate in Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity from the University of Notre Dame.
Allen has been an instructor with Liberty University Online since 2010. After receiving his Ph.D. from Notre Dame, he sought a residential position with Liberty, saying he appreciated Liberty’s sound theological teaching and its mission of Training Champions for Christ.
Hindson and Allen both have vision to see the School of Religion build upon its legacy of excellence. As they train students for ministry well into the middle of this century, they will strive to equip students with strong, relevant curriculum, extensive internship and experiential programs, and a faculty that is second-to-none.
During Homecoming Weekend, the School of Music hosted gospel music legend Bill Gaither and member of the Gaither Vocal Band, David Phelps, a Christian vocalist, songwriter, and arranger.
Before addressing the School of Music, Gaither visited Liberty’s main Convocation service and led more than 10,000 students in prayer. Phelps gave a special performance which received a standing ovation.
Gaither said he was “deeply impressed” at seeing so many students gathered for worship together.
Gaither and Phelps then met with an audience of about 500 School of Music students in the Towns-Alumni Lecture Hall for a special Q-and-A. Aspiring musicians relished the opportunity to learn how to develop their art and establish a career after graduation.
Following the session, Gaither was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Center for Music and Worship.
Later that night, the worship choirs from the School of Music joined the Gaither Vocal Band in concert at the nearby Thomas Road Baptist Church. They accompanied the band on several numbers.
Last October, the Center for Music & Worship was recognized as one of the top worship programs in the country when Worship Leader Magazine included it among the “Best of the Best in Education” for the third-straight year. Readers of the “Best of the Best” issue also awarded Liberty the Reader’s Choice Award for the No. 1 worship program in higher education for the second year in a row.
In a survey of more than 1 trillion queries, Google ranked Liberty second on its 2013 list of Top Trending Colleges and Universities. Liberty is the top ranked nonprofit university on the list.
“It is gratifying to see that so many are researching what Liberty University has to offer,” said President Jerry Falwell, Jr. “It is a clear indicator that people are taking notice of Liberty’s uniqueness among colleges and universities and its unprecedented growth to recently become one of the seven largest universities in the nation.”
The Google Zeitgeist site annually ranks trending searches, analyzing them by time of year and regions of origination throughout the world. Other categories include top events and people — everything from authors, athletes, books, and blogs to tech gadgets, television shows, and video games.
“Our teams have worked hard to expand and improve Liberty’s Web presence, and this ranking is evidence of that,” said Matthew Zealand, Liberty’s chief information officer. “We remain focused on delivering engaging content while using the latest methods to develop effective online tools and resources for a rapidly growing student population.”
Student leaders from Liberty’s Hill and Circle residence halls played integral roles in the success of a fall fundraising campaign for the Blue Ridge Pregnancy Center (BRPC).
More than $35,000 was raised for the BRPC, an area pro-life organization, through a 3K walk and 5K run on the Percival’s Island Natural Area trail in downtown Lynchburg on Oct. 26.
A total of 318 people who participated in the 3K and 5K also took part in a laser tag tournament, “Set the Record for Life,” the same day at Riverfront Park in downtown Lynchburg in an effort to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records.
The events were facilitated by Liberty’s Community Care Initiative (CCI), launched last fall as an extension of the Center for Christian/Community Service (CSER) to meet short-term needs in the community. Carrie Doron and Hannah Butcher served as CCI care team leaders, recruiting and coordinating a group of 40 volunteers, many from their residence hall.
The Fish and Bread Project, another student-run initiative, mobilized nearly a third of the 500-plus male residents from the Hill residence halls to participate in the runs after receiving pledges. They raised more than a third of the total — $13,300.
“It was just amazing,” said Lori Meetre, executive director of the BRPC, who said the money will go toward operational funds and the purchase of a mobile unit offering free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds. “Our goal was $30,000 so we exceeded our goal. That was the most support for a walk we’ve ever had.”
This academic year will be the busiest yet for outreaches coordinated by Liberty’s Center for Global Engagement (CGE), and Liberty Senior Vice President for Communications Johnnie Moore says it’s only a sign of things to come.
More than 300 students will participate on more than 20 teams that will travel to different countries this year for short-term outreaches. An estimated 40 faculty and staff members will be leading these teams.
“No other university in history has made or is making the contribution to the Great Commission that Liberty is making, and we believe it’s just the beginning,” Moore said. “What’s interesting is that it’s not the institution that’s driving this movement; it’s coming from within the student body.”
In January, missionary teams went to East Asia, India, and the Middle East. Spring break outreaches in March will include trips to the Arab World and the Pacific Rim, as well as trips to Bosnia, Ghana, Japan, Spain, Thailand, Brazil (in partnership with the School of Aeronautics), and a relief effort to the Philippines, devastated by Typhoon Haiyan on Nov. 8.
Moore said a team had planned to go to the Philippines even before disaster struck. The team’s schedule has been adjusted to assist in the disaster relief.
Starting the week after Commencement, teams will venture to Bolivia, Cameroon, Ethiopia, France/North Africa, Greece, the Middle East, Kosovo, and Zimbabwe. Moore and Ben Gutierrez, administrative dean for undergraduate programs, will team up to guide a study tour of Israel.
“Missions at Liberty University is not a program, it’s a culture,” Moore said. “We can’t keep up with the demand. This office is participating in as many trips as we possibly can.”
Students and faculty from Liberty’s Department of Nursing participate in several medical missions trips every year (many in partnership with the Center for Global Engagement), providing relief to developing nations and other areas devastated by natural disasters or military conflicts.
In November, Assistant Professor Kathryn Miller served in Rwanda with eight nursing students who provided vaccinations and medication for a local orphanage. They also raised funds for equipment to sterilize medical instruments used by the orphanage.
Each year, Assistant Professor Rachel Mills takes a group of students to West Africa with Dr. Kimberly Mitchell, an assistant professor of Biology in the School of Health Sciences. They provide care for children, expectant mothers, and patients with serious illnesses. Assistant Professor Linda Gregory travels to Togo frequently to teach labor and delivery classes and address other female health concerns.
Likewise, Assistant Professor Frederick “Bo” Kail has taken several groups of students to the Caribbean Islands where they operate a clinic to treat women and children with genetic disorders.
Residential faculty members make regular trips to other locations as well, some spending semesters abroad teaching nursing students at universities outside the U.S.
A large number of Liberty Online nursing faculty have traveled with church groups or other organizations to countries all over the world to serve in medical ministry.
“Students are able to take what they’ve learned in nursing school and apply it and educate local communities,” said Shanna Akers, director of the RN-BSN online program.
To better prepare students who believe God is calling them to be nurses on the mission field, the department has developed a course called Nursing 316, which provides academic credit along with cultural sensitivity training tailored to the countries where they will be serving.
Liberty University Varsity Debate Team members Vida Chiri and Meagan Edwards won three of their last four debates before winning the elimination rounds to claim the championship sword at the United States Military Academy tournament, one of America’s most prestigious debate tournaments, on Oct. 20 at West Point, N.Y.
This is the third time since 1999 that Liberty has won the varsity division of the USMA tournament, joining Boston College as the only team to do so during the same time period.
Chiri and Edwards lost their first two preliminary rounds at the tournament but went on to win three out of four debates to qualify for the elimination rounds. They then defeated top-seeded City University of New York and fifth-seeded Vanderbilt University before upending the University of Vermont for the championship.
In the junior varsity division, sophomores Ana Calizo and Kaitlyn Schiess went undefeated through six preliminary and four elimination rounds, defeating teams from George Mason University, the University of Miami, Vanderbilt, New York University, and Rutgers University.
Liberty University’s Varsity A Quiz Bowl team started and finished exceptionally well at the 2013 Mid-Atlantic Academic Competition Federation Tournament, hosted by the University of Virginia on Nov. 3.
In the opening match, Liberty edged Johns Hopkins University’s B team in overtime, 260-250, before defeating UVA’s A team in the final round of playoffs, 285-200.
Liberty’s Catherine Hardee, a graduate student studying history, correctly answered a question to clinch the opening win in a sudden-death tie-breaker. In the six preliminary-round matches, Hardee was the team’s leading scorer with 225 points (37.5 points per game), ranking her 18th in scoring out of 72 players going into the playoffs.
Liberty went 2-4 in the preliminary standings and 1-3 in the playoffs to finish 3-7 on the day. After edging Johns Hopkins, Liberty lost to the University of Maryland, the tournament’s overall team champion, and Virginia Commonwealth University. The Flames also soundly defeated Virginia Tech’s B team.
Liberty has won Big South Conference championships in seven of the past eight years, going undefeated the past four years in conference competition.
The Liberty University Moot Court team took home the first- and second-place trophies in the American Collegiate Moot Court Association’s regional tournament Nov. 8-9. The win marked a milestone for the Helms School of Government program that began only three years ago.
Liberty University School of Law hosted the event in its Supreme Courtroom. Liberty beat teams from the University of Virginia, University of North Carolina, James Madison University, Appalachian State, Western Carolina, Washington and Lee University, and Patrick Henry College to win the Appalachian Regional title.
Each moot court team consisted of two students, and each competitor was given a question regarding constitutional law, which he or she had to support from either the perspective of the defendant or the U.S. government.
All three Liberty teams, including sophomores Emily Rogers and Eli McGowan, advanced from the Nov. 8 preliminary round into the next day’s octofinals.
Seniors Brian Mauldin and Whitney Rutherford took first place over their teammates, senior Alex Langley and junior Nathan Freier, in the regional final, guaranteeing both Liberty teams invitations to the ACMA national competition at Arizona State University on January 17-18.
Junior Michael Carson won a $500 research grant from the Virginia Academy of Science (VAS) for his presentation on epigenetics of Alzheimer’s disease at the VAS Undergraduate Fall Meeting on Oct. 26. This is the third year in a row Liberty University has taken home one of the five undergraduate research awards.
“Michael has a very exciting project on a very significant disease. I am glad to see his hard work pay off with this recognition,” said Dr. David DeWitt, chair of Liberty’s Department of Biology & Chemistry. “Liberty biology and chemistry students have repeatedly demonstrated a high quality of performance as indicated by awards like this one. We had several students compete at VAS and they were all outstanding. Any of them could have won.”
Carson received an invitation to present at the VAS Annual Spring Meeting May 14-16, which includes graduate and doctoral presentations. Even with the higher level of competition, Liberty students have received first-place honors in each of the past two meetings.
Liberty competed for the grants against students from prestigious institutions across the commonwealth, including Virginia Tech, George Mason University, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Old Dominion University.
Carson’s research instructor is Dr. Gary Isaacs, assistant professor of biology. Isaacs recently received a $40,000 grant from the Alzheimer’s and Related Diseases Research Award Fund, bringing his total awards to $90,000 since coming to Liberty in 2009.
The Department of Biology & Chemistry recently received approval for a new M.S. of Biomedical Sciences from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, Liberty’s accrediting agency. The program officially launches in Fall 2014, but some preliminary classes are available this semester.
Overall academic excellence, the variety and quality of course offerings, and return on investment were three of the factors that placed Liberty University Online’s Master of Science in Sport Management degree among the top 20 in a national ranking recently released by TheBestSchools.org.
The online program, ranked No. 12, was in some rather prestigious company including Texas A&M, Drexel, Washington State, and Northeastern.
“We’ve worked really hard over the past three years to develop and deliver the best master’s-level training in sport management in the country,” said Dr. Clark Zealand, an associate professor and director of graduate studies for Liberty University’s Department of Sport Management. “This ranking is one of many good signs that our work is paying off.”
Liberty Online has pioneered distance education since 1985 and is now the nation’s largest private, nonprofit online educator. In a previous ranking, it was named the No. 1 Online Christian College in America. More than 90,000 students from all 50 states and 90 countries around the world are enrolled in more than 160 programs of study.
Liberty’s sport management curriculum covers sociological, psychological, ethical, financial, and legal aspects of the discipline. Students can choose from four cognates: General, Sport Administration, Outdoor Adventure Sport, and Tourism.
The program prepares graduates for a variety of careers, including sports broadcasting, athletic facility management, and athletic marketing and public relations. Graduates are also qualified for jobs in advertising, administration, and communication, with specializations in event and ticket operations, fitness and health management, outdoor recreation and park planning, and resort management.
Liberty’s residential undergraduate program in sport management is fully accredited by the Commission On Sport Management Accreditation and the department is currently seeking the same accreditation for its online graduate program.