In 1971, I started Liberty University (then Lynchburg Baptist College) because of a dream I believe God planted in my heart. In our first year, we had 154 students and four faculty members, including me. Many people said my dream was an impossible one. But I continued to believe that God had directed me to initiate an institution of higher learning where academic excellence, athletic competition at the highest level and Judeo-Christian values could co-exist.
And today, it does indeed exist.
As I write, we are preparing to open classes for just our 36th year on our campus, known as Liberty Mountain. More than $5 billion has been raised privately and invested in the creation and operation of Liberty. We now have a 5,000-acre campus with state-of-the-art facilities. This year, we will welcome about 10,000 resident students to campus, while another 15,000 students worldwide are studying through our external programs. We have recruited a faculty of 650 brilliant Christian men and women who see their profession as a calling, not just a job. And, in our first 35 years, we have produced more than 122,000 alumni who are today impacting their communities worldwide.
I don’t report this to boast. In fact, I continue to be in awe that God chose me to manage such a high calling.
But, if my readers will excuse me, I do wish to brag just a bit more about Liberty because of some very significant news.
On newsstands this week, U.S. News & World Report’s 2007 edition of “America’s Best Colleges” highlights three universities: UCLA, Cornell and Liberty. It is truly an honor for Liberty to be featured in this manner, especially when one considers that Cornell (which started in 1865) and UCLA (which started in 1919) have been around for so long.
The USN&WR article, titled “They Pray as they Go,” is very complimentary. It underscores Liberty’s rules (no co-ed dorms, no drinking or smoking, etc.) and features interviews with some of our students and faculty, including Dr. Ergun Caner who calls an education at Liberty “Green Beret training for Christians.”
The article also focuses on things that make Liberty unique: dorm prayer groups, a Christian environment (even in the classroom) and our university debate team (which is No. 1 in the nation in all three national debate tournament polls, which no other school has ever achieved).
Some may be amazed that, in just 35 years, Liberty has risen to such a prominent position in the world of higher education. But I’m not surprised. Yes, we’ve had our fair share of challenges and dilemmas, primarily financial ones. But God, in His sovereignty, has placed people in our midst who have endowed Liberty.
People like Art and Angela Williams, Drs. Tim and Beverly LaHaye, Hobby Lobby CEO David Green and others have played significant roles in helping to build this university and secure its future.
Another great feature of Liberty is its diversity. With no quotas or affirmative action in place, we will welcome this fall students reflecting many cultures, backgrounds and ethnicities. In fact, our student body includes young people from 83 nations. Our students are connected by one common goal: to impact the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
As a result, Liberty continues to rapidly grow. This summer, we built five new apartment-style dorms, which house 420 students. We will quickly begin more new dorms this fall and are mapping out designs to open more classroom space.
As you can see, like a proud papa, I like to crow about Liberty. In fact, those interested in learning more about Liberty can visit the school’s website or give us a call: 800-424-9596. For Christian young people in America, Liberty is a great place to learn, grow and discover a vision for your future.
Readers who would like to see the article in full should purchase the 2007 edition of “America’s Best Colleges,” now on newsstands.
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