Jerry Falwell, Jr. became president of Liberty University in May 2007 just after the passing of his father, Liberty's founder, Reverend Jerry Falwell. In the years since, Liberty has seen substantial growth in enrollment, financial resources, and capital improvements.
Falwell was born on Father's Day, June 17, 1962, in Lynchburg, VA. He attended Liberty Christian Academy (formerly known as Lynchburg Christian Academy) and Liberty University, graduating in 1984 with a bachelor of arts degree in Religious Studies and History. He obtained his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Virginia School of Law and was licensed to practice law in 1987.
Falwell married Becki Tilley of Chapel Hill, NC in 1987. They have three children — Jerry Falwell III (Trey), Charles Wesley, and Caroline Grace — and have lived on their farm in Bedford County, VA since 1987. Falwell and his wife make themselves accessible to students and have worked to create a family atmosphere at Liberty University.
Falwell represented local clients and also served as general counsel for Liberty and its related organizations from 1988-2007. During those years, Falwell also became a commercial real estate developer focusing on properties in the vicinity of Liberty University. His companies were highly successful in the recruitment of many national retail and restaurant chains to the area.
Since Falwell became president of the University, enrollment has increased from 9,600 to more than 15,000 residential students and from 27,000 to more than 94,000 online students. Liberty's net assets increased from approximately $100 million in 2007 to more than $2 billion in 2017 as a result of increasing support from donors, responsible fiscal management, and unprecedented enrollment growth.
Liberty is one of only about 70 private universities in the nation rated AA by Standard & Poor's and Aa by Moody's, yet has remained among the most affordable of all private universities and continues to award more than $200 million of institutional aid to its students each year. The Chronicle of Higher Education even reported in 2015 that Liberty had become an unexpected model for the future of higher education.
Falwell was instrumental in the NCAA approving Liberty's waiver request to compete at the Football Bowl Subdivision level as an independent. Under Falwell's leadership, Liberty has grown to become the nation's fifth largest university, the largest university in Virginia, and the largest Christian university in the world.