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Liberty University names first African American Board of Trustees chairman as school’s leadership shifts

This comes days after Jerry Falwell, Jr. agreed to take an indefinite leave of absence.
Published: Aug. 18, 2020 at 6:27 PM EDT
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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - Liberty University announced more changes in leadership Tuesday, marking the school’s first appointment of an African American chairman to the Board of Trustees.

Dr. Allen McFarland (D.D., D.Min.), will serve as the interim chairman while Dr. Jerry Prevo serves as acting president. “I’m excited about this role,” said Dr. McFarland. “During this interim period, the spiritual health and wellness of our leadership is critical to fulfilling the mission set forth in 1971.”

This comes days after Jerry Falwell, Jr. agreed to take an indefinite leave of absence.

McFarland has served on the board nearly 30 years. “He’s well distinguished academically, pastorally,” said Scott Lamb, senior vice president of university communications. “He’s a great spokesperson for our university and for the name of Christ. It’s a very historic time,” said Lamb.

For over two decades, Dr. McFarland has served residential undergraduate and graduate students as an adjunct professor in the School of Divinity.

Dr. McFarland has served as the Pastor of Calvary Evangelical Baptist Church in Portsmouth, Va., since 1982 and has served on the LU’s Board of Trustees since 1991. He is the President of the Southern Baptist Convention of Virginia and was honored among the Nation’s 70 Most Influential Black Christian History Makers who are living today by the Black Christian News Network.

Dr. McFarland also serves on the board of directors of Kids Across America, Baptist Fellowship Association, and the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE). “We are so fortunate at Liberty University to have Dr. Allen McFarland become our Interim Chairman, a man of great faith who follows God’s calling wherever it takes him,” said Acting President Jerry Prevo in a written press statement. “This is a historic appointment at Liberty as Dr. McFarland is a distinguished national leader who will be particularly impactful as we continue to broaden our outreach to the African American community to join our mission in Training Champions for Christ.”

It is now up to the board to determine next steps in leadership.

Lamb says students and alumni should feel “as though things are just simply carrying on” during the leadership shift. “The key theme here is continuity. There’s a great continuity. An institution such as ours with the size that it is, with the legacy that it has behind it. This is not a ship that just turns on a dime, and we don’t really see it turning, we see it as continuity with Christian mission that we already have,” Lamb said.

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