August 4, 2020 : By Office of Communications & Public Engagement
Former Liberty University Head Football Coach Turner Gill and former NFL player Kelvin Edwards (’86) will be familiar faces around campus this fall as they join the university’s ongoing efforts in diversity.
The university has announced that Gill, who retired in December 2018 after seven seasons at Liberty, will serve as Executive Vice President of Diversity, Development & Inclusion. He said he is looking forward to returning to the campus and is grateful for the opportunity to again serve alongside many leaders who remain committed to the mission of Training Champions for Christ.
“President Jerry Falwell and I talked back in November about returning for a role in Development,” Gill said. “We had been working out details, but I called him in June to see if we could change that to Diversity & Inclusion. I am thrilled to be returning and to serve in my new role. I have long shared a vision with President Falwell about increasing the minority population at Liberty and building a program where we build leaders among all racial groups. We want the future leaders in our country and internationally to be trained at a top-notch Christian university so that people are exposed to the Gospel, are educated with Christian values, and are living out their purpose according to God’s will.”
Gill had recently served as the Executive Director of Student-Athlete and Staff Development at the University of Arkansas.
Gill’s wife, Gayle, will be joining him as a new employee and ministry partner at Liberty, assisting with the university’s vision for diversity and inclusion.
Since taking over Liberty’s football program on Dec. 14, 2011, Gill elevated the university’s winning tradition, positioning the Flames for success at the highest level of collegiate football. He played an instrumental part in Liberty’s successful three-year transition from the Football Championship Series (FCS) to the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). He jumpstarted the reclassification process when he guided the Flames to a 48-45 win over Baylor on Sept. 2, 2017, Liberty’s first win over a Power 5 opponent. Gill ended his tenure with the Flames with a 47-35 record and a 72-84 overall head coaching record.
Liberty also welcomes alumnus Kelvin Edwards, who will serve as Executive Vice President of Management Efficiencies & Diversity.
When Edwards calls Liberty University home, he means it both literally and figuratively. As an undergraduate student and stellar football player for the Flames in the 1980s, Edwards said he had already begun to engrain himself in the Liberty University family.
“I warmly refer to Liberty’s founder, the late Dr. Jerry Falwell, Sr., as my ‘father’ not only because of the intimate relationship and mentorship between us, but also because current President Jerry Falwell and I formed a fast and easy brotherhood as college dorm mates,” Edwards said. “My wife, Tiawna, and I are excited to continue our relationship with Liberty University and to uphold the charge of building Champions for Christ.”
Edwards overcame poverty to achieve a college education and land on an athletic journey that took him from “street ball” to an NFL career. He became an All-American football player at Liberty University and a wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys, his childhood dream team.
At Liberty, Edwards helped the flagship athletics program make the move to the NCAA ranks. The wide receiver shined during a star-studded four-year career (1982-85). After graduating from Liberty, Edwards was selected in the fourth round of the 1986 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints, and he went on to play with the Dallas Cowboys from 1987-89 before his pro career was cut short by injury.
Edwards was inducted into the Liberty Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009, and his No. 83 jersey was retired last October during Liberty’s Homecoming football game.
Liberty President Jerry Falwell said he is proud to welcome Gill and Edwards to the executive team.
“We are honored to have Turner Gill back at Liberty as well as Kelvin Edwards, an alumnus and successful businessman. As executive vice presidents, they will help us demonstrate our commitment to reuniting people — both Republicans and Democrats — who have been divided by the establishment politicians.”
“People who should be natural allies, and always were, have been divided in the last few decades,” Falwell explained. “Through Liberty, we are going to work to reunite people who have been artificially divided by the establishment politicians, the ones who have shown that the only way they can keep power is by dividing and conquering. We’re not going to let that happen anymore. We’re going to bring people together who agree on most of the issues — not all, but most — such as school vouchers, pro-life, and the Second Amendment. Those are issues we all agree on, but we’ve been divided by evil, corrupt, establishment politicians. We’re going to change the country by reuniting those groups.”
Liberty University also remains committed to fostering diversity in its academic and professional community. In January 2018, the university formed the Office of Equity & Inclusion to lead the development and implementation of initiatives that support Liberty’s desire to have culturally and ethnically diverse students, faculty, staff, and leadership, free from all unbiblical and unlawful discrimination. In November 2018, the Board of Trustees adopted a resolution to advance efforts in diversity across campus.
The resolution acknowledges the centrality of “fostering a diverse, co-educational student body and an inclusive educational environment reflective of the Body of Christ” as well as the need to utilize proactive measures to recruit, retain, and support highly qualified and diverse students. The resolution also recognizes that the purpose of the Office of Equity & Inclusion is to cultivate not only a diverse student body but also “a culturally and ethnically diverse leadership team, faculty, (and) staff.”