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being a Liberty graduate

The recent Ergun Caner situation has brought me back to thinking about my time at Liberty and what I learned there. I’m really grateful for my time at Liberty, the education that I got there, and the fact that because of Jerry Falwell’s personal and institutional largess I was able to graduate with no debt.

Very roughly speaking, Liberty’s history can be broken into four periods:

  1. 1971-1985 the Lynchburg Baptist College/Liberty Baptist College days
  2. 1985-1999 LBC becomes Liberty University and joins the Southern Baptist Convention
  3. 1999-2005 Jerry Falwell’s last (not to say declining) years
  4. 2005-Present the Jerry Jr years

This is a kind of arbitrary breakdown; in the first period there were the Hotel days, when most of the resident students lived in a hotel across the street from the Allied Arts Building downtown, and the early Liberty Mountain days. It could be argued that Liberty became a very different place as it pursued and achieved accreditation. And of course along the way Jerry went from being fundamentalist to being evangelical and took the school with him.

If you meet the earliest Liberty students they’re very different people from the people I knew when I was there; by the same token I suspect Liberty’s a very different place now than it was twenty years ago when I was there, and populated by very different people.

I love my alma mater for better or worse and I’m grateful for my time there, but as I’m getting older I realize I understand it less and less. It’s entirely possible I never understood it, of course, and just made up stories to fit my experiences.

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