My proposed new name for Jerry Falwell Jr. University more commonly known as Liberty University.
Maybe my shade is best explained by envy, ALU’s endowment is $1.4b, that’s “b” for a billion. And I’ve never been invited to speak there, which is sad because guest speakers get designer M&Ms among other swag.
There’s been some great reporting on ALU in 2019. For example, start here and then follow up with Ruth Graham’s The Buffer in Slate.
Graham is illustrative of one of our nation’s greatest treasures in this dystopian age, highly skilled, deeply committed journalists who continue to do great work despite their colleagues disappearing in an industry hemorrhaging jobs. I can’t fathom the self confidence it takes to commit to journalism today. Thank goodness the Ruth Grahams of the world have a lot more courage than me.
In her most recent piece, Graham tells the story of Falwell’s number two, David Nasser, ALU’s “Senior Vice President for Spiritual Development” who makes $349,000 a year to lead ALU’s mandatory convocation (church) services on campus and to provide spiritual counsel to students.
Nasser’s “spiritual counsel” is mostly about tampering down dissent when offered to students bold enough to question the administration.
Paragraph to ponder:
“When I asked Falwell about the idea of a ‘culture of fear’ at Liberty, he referred to an English professor who has been outspoken about her objections to Trump. ‘Ask Karen [Swallow] Prior about that,’ he said. ‘She’s never had any repercussions.’ Prior, Liberty’s highest-profile faculty member, announced the next morning that she was leaving the school after 21 years, citing reasons that included creeping administrative oversight over faculty work. (Falwell tweeted after the announcement that she would be “greatly missed.” Prior declined to comment for this piece.)”
Maybe Falwell will prepare a little bit more before Graham’s next visit. Scratch that, given her hard hitting critique of Liberty’s “academic” culture, I’m sure she’s persona non grata. No more designer M&Ms for her.
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