Liberty launches search for new president
Consultancy to run national search to replace Prevo
Liberty University announced Wednesday that it has hired an Atlanta-based executive search firm to find its next president, who will succeed Jerry Prevo, the longtime board chair who became the Lynchburg private Christian institution’s interim president after Jerry Falwell Jr. stepped down amid scandal in August 2020.
“President Prevo has been a gift from God and exactly what Liberty needed over these transitional years. He has positioned Liberty well for the future,” Liberty board Chairman Tim Lee said in a statement. “Liberty University will always be indebted to President Prevo for stepping out of retirement for these three years to serve Liberty tirelessly and sacrificially. His exceptional work will ensure a good start for our next leader, and his own contribution to Liberty University will be remembered and celebrated for generations.”
According to Liberty’s announcement, CarterBaldwin Executive Search, an Atlanta-based firm that focuses on finding leaders for health care, technology, nonprofit and other business sectors, will lead the search for a new president to be hired prior to the 2023-24 academic year. The university will release a full job description in mid-September. Price Harding, CarterBaldwin’s chairman, and Bill Peterson, a partner who is a 1996 alumnus of Liberty, will co-lead the search.
Prevo, a former pastor of Alaska’s Anchorage Baptist Temple, stepped in as interim president in August 2020, when Falwell Jr. resigned after a series of personal scandals, including allegations that he had knowledge of an affair between his wife and a young man who also was their business partner briefly. Falwell has denied that allegation, but the university sued him for $10 million for breach of contract. He also has countersued, seeking the return of some legal documents, a revolver he kept in his desk and other personal items he says the university has not allowed him to collect since banning him from Liberty property. Both suits were still active as of early August.
Liberty also was sued by 22 anonymous women — both former students and staff members — who alleged that Liberty “intentionally created a campus environment where sexual assaults and rapes are foreseeably more likely” and discouraged victims from reporting their assaults. In May, 20 of the plaintiffs settled their lawsuits against Liberty, but the U.S. Department of Education is investigating the university over claims of Title IX misconduct, although often these cases are resolved quietly with an agreement.
The university also launched a third-party investigation of the university’s finances and real estate dealings during Falwell’s tenure in late 2020, but no report has been publicly released yet.
The school has the largest enrollment of any university based in Virginia — with 95,148 students enrolled in 2021, according to Liberty — mostly due to remote learning students.