What Liberty University Tells Us About Derelict Trustees - 2019-11-08
Liberty University, a private, Christian university in Lynchburg, Virginia, has been a target of intense media scrutiny—largely in response to President Jerry Falwell Jr.'s vocal support of President Trump. New critiques, however, have moved from ideological differences on which reasonable people will disagree to objective accusations of serious malpractices.
In July, the Washington Post ran a scathing exposé on Liberty University's "culture of fear," in which the student newspaper was vigorously censored by university officials, and staff felt uncomfortable questioning President Falwell's devotion to the Trump administration. The apparent squelching of divergent opinions has, remarkably, also drawn recent and vigorous condemnation from the highly conservative College Fix. In August, Reuters uncovered information alleging that Jerry Falwell may have used university resources in order to enrich his friends, including a deal where the university sold a massive piece of real estate to his personal trainer for no cash up front. And in September, Politico meticulously detailed how Jerry Falwell concentrated power in Liberty University's administration, allowing him to extend loans and business contracts to friends, including a contract for his son, Trey Falwell, to operate a university-owned shopping mall. (President Falwell then later fast-tracked Trey to Vice President of University Support Services.)
The free press, a powerful tool for higher education accountability, has done a remarkable job exposing President Falwell's ostensible improprieties to the public, but lost in the dialogue on Liberty University has been the obvious and important question: Where is the board of trustees?