The Roanoke Times has an interesting article on the changes taking place at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University as it seeks to broaden its appeal to potential students:
The college campus that the late Rev. Jerry Falwell founded is not known as a particularly fun-filled place. Falwell himself occasionally referred to Liberty University as a “Bible Boot Camp.” But the school’s new image includes ski boots — and a $2 million synthetic slope.
Saying goodbye to some of its straight-laced stereotype, Liberty’s fresh face also includes a track for off-road motorcycles, a paintball battlefield, an equestrian center with horse trails and organized student shopping trips to Richmond.
“Our mission was never to be a Bible school just training teachers,” said Jerry Falwell Jr., a son of the founder who is Liberty’s chancellor and president. He is leading a multimillion-dollar campaign called “Ultimate LU” to enhance the university’s appeal to a broader range of prospective students.
I have a sneaking feeling that future classes might contain a fair number of students who were lured by Liberty’s shiny new amenities and failed to do some basic research regarding LU’s restrictive environment and mission to produce “champions for Christ”:
But Liberty’s emphasis on spare-time diversions won’t change its strict code of conduct, which includes possible reprimands and fines for such activities as attending dances, entering the bedroom of a member of the opposite sex and viewing R-rated movies.
“We’re known as a conservative religious school,” Falwell acknowledged. The school’s expansion of leisure options “can be done without compromising our Christian beliefs.”
“We don’t have coed dorms,” he added. “We don’t have beer bashes.”
Outsiders did not suggest such nontraditional events for Liberty until recently, and the ideas might underscore a misperception of how much the school’s personality is changing, said Chris Misiano, director of campus programming. “We’re open” to new concepts, he said. “We’re not wide open” … Liberty officials still filter out HBO at the nearby Ramada Inn that the school leases and manages. Occasionally, Misiano hears someone voice a yearning for campus theaters to show R-rated movies.