Correction: Liberty University-Falwell story

U.S. & World
Jerry Falwell Jr.

FILE – In this Nov. 16, 2016 file photo Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr., pauses during an interview in his office at the school in Lynchburg, Va. The accrediting body that oversees Liberty University says it has asked the college for more information about recent media reports that have questioned Falwell’s leadership style and personal business interests. Falwell, the head of the nation’s most high-profile evangelical college, previously told The Associated Press the stories are the result of an “attempted coup” orchestrated against him by several disgruntled former board members and employees who are leaking information to the press. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — In a story Sept. 25 about Liberty University, The Associated Press, relying on information from the school’s accreditor, reported erroneously that the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges sent a letter asking for more information about recent news reports about Jerry Falwell Jr. A spokeswoman for the commission says that no letter has been sent but that the news reports are under review.

A corrected version of the story is below:

APNewsBreak: Accreditor reviewing Falwell reports

The accrediting body that oversees Liberty University says it is reviewing recent news reports that have questioned President Jerry Falwell Jr.’s leadership style and personal business interests

By SARAH RANKIN and ALAN SUDERMAN

Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The accrediting body that oversees Liberty University is reviewing recent news reports that have questioned President Jerry Falwell Jr.’s leadership style and personal business interests, a spokeswoman told The Associated Press.

“We are monitoring the situation based on our standards to see if there are any potential violations,” said Janea Johnson, a spokeswoman for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Johnson previously told The Associated Press on two occasions that the commission sent a letter to the Lynchburg, Virginia, school asking for more information about the news reports. The reports, some based on anonymous sources, have described Falwell as a temperamental leader who brokers no dissent and has blurred the lines between the school and his personal business.

Johnson later said she had misspoken and that no letter has been sent.

Liberty is the nation’s highest-profile evangelical college. Falwell previously told AP that the news reports stemmed from an “attempted coup” orchestrated by several disgruntled former board members and employees who are leaking internal university communications to discredit him. He said he has asked the FBI to investigate what he considers a criminal conspiracy.

Falwell is the son of the late evangelist the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who founded Liberty and led the Moral Majority, a conservative, religious political action group.

The younger Falwell was among the earliest Christian conservatives to endorse President Donald Trump’s campaign and has enjoyed close access to the president. He says that support has likely prompted some of the criticism of his leadership style, personal life and business investments that has surfaced in news reports recently.

Falwell has helped transform Liberty from a tiny Baptist college into a touchstone institution for evangelicals. Its campus is dotted with sparkling new buildings and the university is flush with cash and real estate holdings in and around Lynchburg.

The most recently available tax records show Falwell makes about $1 million a year running the school.

Liberty is currently fully accredited without any sanctions, Johnson said.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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