Home > Current Events > Liberty University to get $12 million from Virginia Tobacco Comission

Liberty University to get $12 million from Virginia Tobacco Comission

The Virginia Tobacco Commission will be giving Liberty University $12 million for its health sciences school, scheduled to open as soon as Fall 2013. See e.g. WHSV [link] and WDBJ [link]. The latter link is the better one.

It’s a matching grant; the total $24 million will be a big chunk of the budget for the planned $40 million facility. Most of the money is earmarked for supporting an osteopathic medicine program.

I’m surprised to discover that the tobacco commission is interested in osteopathy; it’s not a connection I would have suspected. It looks like that from the university’s perspective this is just another day at the office: with no big television ministry backing the university they have to find money somewhere, and they’re putting their best business people into the grant-writing business:

Falwell thanked Liberty’s administration and staff for their hard work in preparing the grant proposal.

“Dr. Ron Godwin (Provost), Dr. Ron Hawkins (Vice Provost), Dr. Emily Heady, Dr. Ben Gutierrez, Dr. Kevin Corsini and Mr. Larry Shackleton, along with other team members, spent months working on the grant proposal and did an outstanding job of explaining the plans for the new school to the Tobacco Commission members,” Falwell said. “Liberty University is blessed to have such competent academic leadership and we deeply appreciate their fine work on this exciting project.”

I’m not over-thrilled to see tobacco money being donated to Liberty University; last time I checked tobacco was primarily used as a recreational drug, albeit a legal one (like alcohol; unlike marijuana), and I would think Liberty as a Christian university with a fundamentalist heritage would consider tobacco money dirty money. Evidently not.


  1. October 4, 2011 at 5:46 am

    Dude, this is an AWESOME fund raising idea. We could have the Larry Flynt Spine Institute, the Jessica Hahn Center for Women’s Health, and the Jim Bakker Clinic for Addictive Sexual Disorders.

    • October 4, 2011 at 10:00 am

      A propos of nothing, I really do need to do a couple of posts on the Cornwall Alliance.

  2. Timothy F Simpson
    October 5, 2011 at 7:16 am

    Hey, they refused to allow us to listen to anything but the elevator music of WRVL on pain of a weekend campus, until DC talk hit the big time and then rockin out was cool. Then, after decades of being forbidden to attend movies, they sold out to AMC who put a multiplex right at the university’s front door.

    • October 5, 2011 at 7:38 am

      Have you ever read Falwell Inc? It doesn’t deal with this question exactly, but it details some of the business decisions the ministry made late in Jerry Sr’s life. At some point early in the last decade the business plan for Old Time Gospel Hour stopped making sense altogether, and they decided to wind it down. The story of the meeting where that decision was made is one of the crucial pieces of that book.

      Anyway, with Old Time no longer being a cash cow, and Moral Majority/Liberty Alliance not being the entity it once was, and Jerry Sr. no longer being available, Liberty has had to become viable some other way. There was a time when a single big donation once in a while would do the trick, but that’s gotten harder to do now that the university runs $300-400 million a year; there just aren’t that many donations of the appropriate size to be had any more.

      And if Liberty has a pipeline of alumni capable of making even medium-sized donations I don’t know anything about it. Liberty does not have a habit of producing upper-middle-income white-collar wage-earners of the sort who would be willing to give say a half-million dollars over a lifetime.

      I had thought the current business plan had three fronts: alumni dollars, LU Online, and opening the campus to third-party private interests. I hadn’t suspected they were chasing foundation money, too. The list of names involved in this particular deal suggests to me they’re not doing a lot of them.

      And yeah, with the exception of alumni money there’s a persistent risk of (cultural, moral, ethical, etc.) compromise with each of these. And so far as I can tell they’re still trying to figure out an alumni donation strategy that works. I had someone call me a few weeks back asking if I’d be interested in donating to a special fund for scholarships for veterans. It struck me as a bit poorly-thought-out.

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