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Liberty U names executive search firm to hire next president

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The Georgia-based CarterBaldwin Executive Search will conduct the search for the next president of Liberty University, a prominent Evangelical university founded by Jerry Falwell Sr. in Virginia.

In an announcement Wednesday, the Lynchburg-based university stated that CarterBaldwin will oversee the search for a person to replace interim Liberty President Jerry Prevo, who has served in that role since the resignation of former President Jerry Falwell Jr. in 2020.

Gilbert “Bud” Tinney, Jr., a member of Liberty’s Board of Trustees and chairman of the search committee, spoke of the current situation as a time of stabilization.

“During this season of institutional transition, Liberty University has benefited tremendously from a combination of stabilizing leaders with vast institutional experience and some of the nation’s best outside experts,” stated Tinney.

“The selection of CarterBaldwin demonstrates clearly Liberty’s ongoing commitment to excellence and its determination to work with the absolute best advisors to find the right individual to lead Liberty University into its next 50 years.”

CarterBaldwin has an extensive history of working with faith-based and nonprofit organizations and has placed more than 100 CEOs in faith-based institutions.

CarterBaldwin Chairman Price Harding said in a statement that he is “extremely proud of our work on behalf of faith-based institutions.”

“Liberty University isn’t just one of the world’s largest institutions of higher education, it is also a unique institution with unique characteristics and nonnegotiable values,” Harding stated.

“We are excited about partnering with the search committee to find the right leader. Along the way we will bring to the university our commitment to always providing objective counsel and the best available expertise in executive search.”

Liberty will release a position profile in mid-September to begin the process of soliciting and evaluating candidates. The Liberty board of trustee’s search committee hopes to install a new president before the 2023-2024 academic school year. Prevo will continue to serve as acting president until the role is filled. 

The search will be led by Harding and CarterBaldwin partner Bill Peterson. 

In August 2020, Falwell Jr. resigned as Liberty president after he and his wife, Becki, were implicated in a sex scandal by a young man named Giancarlo Granda.

The allegation came after Falwell had been put on an “indefinite leave of absence” from his roles as president and chancellor following the leaked photo of him on social media at a costume party on a yacht during his family’s vacation.

In the photo, Falwell wore unzipped jeans that exposed his abdomen and underwear while his hand was around the waist of his wife’s assistant, who wore a tank top and unzipped shorts.

Falwell became the head of the university in 2007 following the death of his father, who founded the institution under the name Liberty Baptist College in 1971.

Prevo served as chairman of the university’s board of trustees since 2003.

During Prevo’s time as interim president, Liberty faced allegations of failing to adequately respond to claims of sexual assault and harassment by students.

In July 2021, a dozen women filed a class-action lawsuit accusing Liberty of mishandling their sexual assault complaints when they were students.

The litigation was settled in May, with the details of the agreement between the two parties kept confidential.  

Liberty became the subject of a federal investigation by the U.S. Department of Education in May.

According to the government, there were questions over whether Liberty was in compliance with the Clery Act, which requires schools to support victims of sexual violence.

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