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Liberty University Homecoming

I was hoping to get to Liberty for all of homecoming this year, but my day job interfered and we ended up missing almost all of it. We didn’t get to the campus until almost dark on Saturday. We were able to pick up one of the campus radio stations while on US 29 N coming in from Danville, though, and we were able to hear part of the football game well before we got into the vast US 29 interchange on and off campus.

Liberty’s campus has always been a surprisingly ugly collection of buildings in a beautiful location; the archival pictures of the original Liberty Mountain campus from the Seventies on display on the first floor of DeMoss make the campus look like a World War II military camp, and while the current campus is a vast improvement it still has a cramped chock-a-block feel. In the Eighties there was exactly one legal way on and off campus (the exit across the railroad track toward Wards Ferry Rd was only for emergencies), and traffic flow was generally nightmarish during peak usage. Campus North now spills into town next to Candler’s Station, but the rest of campus still feels cramped.

During the heyday of Old Time Gospel Hour things that made for simple television messages got attention; everything else got done on an emergencies-only basis. In the late Eighties, during the post-PTL downturn, the academic buildings on the main quad had roofs that leaked (a detail that matters in a town rightly called Drenchburg) and stained carpets that stank. One of my favorite stories from this time involves Jerry (Sr) dropping by the video production studio in Fine Arts, seeing a rain-catcher rigged from a few trash bags and a handful of trash cans, meant to keep leaked water off thousands of dollars worth of production equipment, and suggesting that since it was working it was sufficient. Jerry wasn’t detail-oriented, didn’t like bad news, and was very much a media animal, and for many years the ministry generally, and the Liberty campus in particular, reflected these aspects of his personality.

Current chancellor Jerry Jr, on the other hand, is an unashamed businessman; it’s my understanding that he was involved in the deal that sold ministry property to the developer who brought the big box retail stores to town across Wards Road (I once played a soccer game at the multi-field facility that used to be more or less where Wal-Mart is now), in the deal that built Candler’s Station, and of course in the ministry purchase of Pittman Plaza. He really does seem to be more detail-oriented than his father, had made changes meant to make the business of running Liberty more transparent and manageable, and as a result there are far fewer bare bulbs, leaky roofs, substandard structures, and disasters waiting to happen than there were twenty years ago.

It’s ironic that getting off television did so much for the way the campus looks. It’s still an ugly campus in a beautiful location, though. More about that in a later post.

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  1. October 19, 2010 at 1:49 pm

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