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In 50th Anniversary meeting, Trustees strengthen governance to protect the institutional mission, honor founder

In the Nov. 5 fall meeting of Liberty University’s Board of Trustees, its members took deliberative actions to strengthen university governance while honoring Liberty University’s founder and his vision to Train Champions for Christ.

“We have achieved much, for the glory of God, in these 50 years,” said Board Chairman Evangelist Tim Lee. “Now, we are working diligently to ensure that all the appropriate measures are in place to protect the university’s mission of Training Champions for Christ for the next 50 years.”

In response to external and internal reviews of the institution initiated by the Trustees and President Jerry Prevo a year ago, the Trustees voted unanimously to approve or revise 10 institutional policies which strengthen the university’s processes for governing its business conduct and executive management. The policies related to ethics in business conduct, conflicts of interest, nepotism, acquisition processes, whistleblower protections, political limits training for 501(c)3 organizations and training on the new policies, among others. These decisions were the results of months of Trustee work and follow the charter and bylaw revisions passed in the immediate previous meeting of the Trustees.

The board also voted unanimously to have an independent and comprehensive review of its Title IX policies and processes, including recommendations for improvement with best practices consistent with Liberty’s mission. The Board authorized President Prevo to engage a third party to independently assess the facts necessary for Liberty University to make things right with the Jane Doe Title IX plaintiffs, regardless of how long it has been.  President Prevo noted during the board meeting that the institution wasn’t going to wait until the reviews were complete in order to take positive actions. Prevo announced that he had initiated the installation of up to 1,000 security cameras, in two phases, across the university’s campus in addition to the installation of emergency “blue light boxes” in key locations. The Trustees enthusiastically supported the initiative, which is expected to cost in excess of $8.5 million.

“The whole world knows that the last year has been challenging for Liberty University,” said Lee. “What they may not know is that these challenges are only making us stronger. This has become a banner year for Liberty University.”

Artist’s rendering of the Jerry Falwell Center: Inspiring Champions for Christ

Additionally, the Trustees voted to approve six additional degree programs, including three doctoral programs and three master’s programs, and received various committee reports, including an update from the committee responsible for the search for Liberty’s future President and Chancellor for Spiritual Affairs. After the university has fully implemented the Board’s governance changes and their operational counterparts, the committee will launch the searches during the summer of 2022. The search committee intends on having both leaders in place for the summer of 2023.  The board expressed full confidence in Prevo continuing to serve as President through the May 2023 Commencement.

The Trustees also commended the university’s efforts to manage the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. Early and decisive mitigation efforts on campus have resulted in a largely normal academic semester for the student body with spikes only occurring in the low single digits.

During the meeting, President Prevo spoke at length about the results of the university’s refocus on its original and distinctively Christian mission. The Trustees recessed the meeting for a brief groundbreaking ceremony for the Jerry Falwell Center to honor the founder and celebrate Liberty’s mission of Training Champions for Christ.

The Center, which will be constructed in the heart of Liberty University’s 7,000-acre campus in Lynchburg, Va., will be an interactive experience that memorializes the founder for future generations.

“Over the last few months, I’ve often thought about the lessons we all learned from Dr. Falwell,” said Prevo. “Every freshman class heard his weekly appeal to ‘Never give up’ and they learned from him that ‘You don’t measure a man by his talent or wealth as the world does, but rather by what it takes to discourage him.’ He told them, ‘If it’s Christian it ought to be better.’”

“Generations of students learned that ‘all our failures are prayer failures’ and ‘a man is what he is on his knees before God and nothing more,’” said Prevo. “This is the Liberty University difference. We don’t just attend to the intellectual health of our students through our world-class academic programs, but to their whole person. We Train Champions for Christ. We always have and we always will.”