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Liberty University taps former Air Force chief chaplain as new president, Jonathan Falwell to serve as chancellor


Liberty University has selected U.S. Air Force Maj Gen (Ret.) Dondi E. Costin, Ph.D., to serve as its next president.

The selection comes after a nearly three-year search to fill the role that will lead Liberty University in a direction consistent with its original mission: Training Champions for Christ.

The role of chancellor will be filled by Jonathan Falwell, who also serves as senior pastor at Thomas Road Baptist Church.

Costin, a two-time graduate of Liberty, served as the chief of chaplains for the United States Air Force during the final three years of his 30-plus-year military career. Since then he has moved into higher education, having most recently served as president of Charleston Southern University.

In a March 31 press release, Costin expressed his enthusiasm for assuming the helm of Liberty University.

“As one whose life and ministry have been profoundly shaped by Liberty University, I can think of no educational institution with more global impact than my two-time alma mater. I am beyond grateful to the Board for entrusting me with this extraordinary opportunity….Vickey and I look forward to locking arms with the Liberty family as we honor the University’s past and drive toward its future. With God’s help and for His glory, the very best days of our great University are still ahead of us.”

Chancellor-designee Jonathan Falwell also offered encouraging remarks, noting his assurance that Liberty will carry on the dream of his father and Liberty University founder, Jerry Falwell Sr., to “train champions for Christ.” He said,

“With this transition we are recommitting our institution to its founding, and singular, mission: Training Champions for Christ. I look forward to serving alongside our exceptionally qualified new president to impact more lives than ever before with Christ-centered education.”

Both leaders will officially begin their roles in time for the 2023-2024 academic year.

Maj Gen Costin’s service awards include the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, and Meritorious Service Medal. He graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1986 and has since earned five master’s degrees, two of which are from Liberty University, as well as two doctorate degrees.

A full transcript of the press release may be found here.

Having led the ministry arm of the United States Air Force, effectively the senior pastor of the nearly 800,000-member branch, Costin’s experience more than qualifies him to take the helm of Liberty University. As one of the largest and most influential Christian universities in the world, Liberty University depends on the spiritual maturity and direction of senior leadership.

Fellow executive Jonathan Falwell appropriately took the place of chancellor, a position of influence that will allow him to further the spiritual development of the campus – a spiritual blueprint that he, like his late father, prioritize beyond any component of Liberty University – this beacon of hope to a lost and dark culture.

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