Chairman of LU Board releases statement on Falwell Jr. leave of absence

WDBJ7's Eric Miller reports
Published: Aug. 7, 2020 at 4:50 PM EDT
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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - Jerry Falwell, Jr. has agreed to a Liberty University Board of Trustees request that he “take an indefinite leave of absence from his roles as President and Chancellor of Liberty University,” according to the university.

The leave is effective immediately.

The Chairman of Liberty University’s Board of Trustees, Jerry Prevo, addressed the move in a statement late Friday night:

“In the 13 years that Jerry Falwell, Jr. has served as president of Liberty University, Liberty has experienced unprecedented success, not only academically and financially, with a world-class campus, but also spiritually. As we enter our 50th Anniversary year, we have been blessed to grow to a record 120,000 students, both residential and online, and continue to fulfill our founder’s mission to Train Champions for Christ across the world.

“Unfortunately, with this success and the burdens of leading a large and growing organization comes substantial pressure. Today, my colleagues and I on the Liberty University Board of Trustees and Jerry mutually agreed that it would be good for him to take an indefinite leave of absence. This was a decision that was not made lightly, and which factored the interests and concerns of everyone in the LU community, including students, parents, alumni, faculty, staff, leaders of the Church, as well as the Falwell family.

“To support Jerry through this period, we ask that our entire community lift him up in prayer so he may be able to fulfill God’s purpose for him and for Liberty University.”

The university statement did not indicate specifically what prompted the request by the trustees, but the announcement came after Falwell apologized for posting photos on social media that critics said were distasteful, including one that showed Falwell with his pants unzipped and his arm around a young woman.

In a radio interview with WLNI, Falwell said the photo was taken during a costume party while on vacation. “I was like ... trying to like ... I had a pair of jeans on that I hadn’t worn in a long time and couldn’t get mine zipped either,” Falwell said on the program.

The leave of absence also came a day after Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) Tweeted that Falwell resign for “appalling” behavior.

Falwell has come under fire in recent months for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic regarding students being on campus.

Some athletes also left the university in the wake of Falwell tweeting against Governor Ralph Northam’s mask mandate; using an image allegedly of Northam in blackface from Northam’s college yearbook.

At least one campus professor also resigned.

Falwell has served since 2007 as president of the Lynchburg university founded by his father, the late evangelist the Rev. Jerry Falwell.

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