College Profile: Liberty University

participate in this kind of activity,” says Brad Butler, Liberty’s planning coordinator who notes students must complete the firearms safety class before using the shooting range. “We’re providing a safe and convenient venue for them to come out and shoot shotguns, pistols, rifles, three-gun competition, skeet, archery, paintball, a whole myriad of activities.”

Liberty expects to eventually have ven-

ues for all Olympic shooting sports, a move that prompted a junior national champion skeet shooter from South Africa to enroll at Liberty.

under fire for blaming “both sides” for the violence that occurred at an August alt-right rally in Charlottesville. In protest, a small group of alumni began a campaign urging fellow graduates to return their Liberty diplomas. In a statement, Liberty University said

it “strongly supports our students’ right to express their own political opinions, includ- ing any opposition they have to their school leader’s relationship with this president of the U.S., just as other students may have opposed leadership of liberal institutions supporting previous presidents.”

Liberty conducted a local blood drive to benefi t the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando.

“A champion isn’t just someone who

succeeds in business or who wins on the field, it’s someone who lives out their faith by showing the Fruits of the Spirit — kind- ness, joy, peace, patience, charity, faithful- ness — in everything that they do,” Conrad explains. “And so we wanted to ask: What does that look like in 2017?” Stories told include a Liberty student

who collected 22,000 shoes and sent them to his home country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and a 2010 Liberty graduate who has built an international ministry to combat human trafficking. Students and staff provide more than

500,000 hours of volunteer service each year locally, nationally and internationally, says David Nasser, Liberty’s senior vice- president of spiritual development. And it’s not always labor and time. “We

Liberty also has launched the Center

for Law and Government, a public policy program with a strong focus on self- government, free markets and the rule of law.

“We think we have a unique opportu-

nity here to hold thoughtful and courteous debate and serious academic study on these issues and to hear different points of view from high-profile guests,” says Robert Hurt, a former congressman from Virginia’s 5th

District, who is the center’s

executive director. Last spring, the center hosted Con-

stitution Week, bringing in federal judges; representatives from the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations; and several U.S. lawmakers, including Rep. Trey Gowdy and Sen. Tim Scott, both Republicans from South Carolina. In addition, students have taken several trips to Washington, meeting with, among others, Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia. Falwell’s staunch support for President

Trump occasionally has drawn criticism from some Liberty students and alumni. Fal- well defended the president when he came

80 DECEMBER 2017

Living out faith Organizations that get bigger and

more nationally prominent run the risk of losing touch with their core mission, but Liberty officials say they are taking steps to ensure that it remains a faith-based school. “I like to say that Liberty is conserva-

tive with a small ‘c,’ but we are Christian with a capital ‘C,’” says Falwell. “We’re not looking for students who feel entitled to the best that life has to offer, but students who are looking to be equipped with what they need to go out and serve others as Christ calls us to do and to give their very best in their chosen field.” The school began an initiative this fall

called “We the Champions.” The project gives students, faculty, staff and alumni the opportunity to share their experience at the university. “As we have found ourselves more on

the national stage, we realized that we’re at a pivotal moment where we have a chance to really define and show exactly who we are and not let other people do it for us,” says Kristin Conrad, Liberty’s vice president of communications and marketing.

help in whatever way is needed,” Nasser explains. For example, the school took up a collection to help pay the medical and funeral costs of the victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting and ran a local blood drive for the victims of the Orlando Pulse night- club attack last year. “I think that definitely draws a certain type of student who wants to make a difference because that is what we are really known for,” he says. Last year, Liberty started its Send Now

program, which trains student volunteers to help with disaster relief and other emergen- cies. Already, 1,900 Liberty students have registered to be part of the program. This fall, numerous groups of Liberty

students were sent to help in areas affected by Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Jose, the Mexican earthquake and the California wildfires. Falwell notes that none of Liberty’s

initiatives are pursued in a vacuum, includ- ing the effort to play at the highest level of college football. The end goal is still to train champions for Christianity. “Football is not our mission, of course,

but it shines a light on our mission like nothing else ever can,” he explains. “Athletics is a way to promote your

brand, it’s the easiest way to make your school known to the public and let parents and students know what Liberty has avail- able for them. With academics, it takes generations to develop a reputation that’s well known and well-regarded, but with sports, you can do it relatively quickly. And that’s what we’re hoping to do.”

Photo courtesy Liberty University

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