Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA announced Monday that its board of trustees has named an interim president to replace current president Jerry Falwell Jr. The school last week requested that Falwell take an “indefinite leave of absence” from his leadership roles following a controversial photo posted on social media.
In a press release Monday, Liberty University announced that Jerry Prevo will assume the role of acting president effective immediately. Prevo has served as chairman of the university’s board of trustees since 2003.
He will be working from campus starting August 17. He will also step aside from his position on the board during the interim period. Prevo recently retired from Anchorage Baptist Temple, one of the largest churches in the state of Alaska. He served as the senior pastor for 47 years.
“I want to thank my fellow board members for having confidence that I could be entrusted with the responsibility of serving as the Acting President during this time of Jerry Falwell, Jr.’s indefinite leave of absence,” Prevo said in the news release.
“Please pray for us as well as the Falwell family as we embark on our academic year. May [we] continue to be united in our common purpose and our faith in Christ.”
On the same day the university announced Falwell’s indefinite replacement, a group called Save71 launched a website demanding that the board “permanently removal” him from his position. They requested that he be replaced “with a responsible and virtuous Christian leader.”
“Liberty University, like any institution or person, needs to repent of its sins before seeking redemption,” the website reads. “The Board of Trustees must acknowledge the damage President Falwell has done to Liberty and the hypocrisy and corruption that has soaked into parts of its culture.”
The group also mentioned that their request isn’t just about one photo. Rather, his removal is about a “pattern of behavior and toxic culture that trickled down from Liberty’s leadership into every area of the school.”
The controversial photo that led to Falwell’s indefinite suspension, was taken at a costume party during his family’s vacation. Falwell wore a t-shirt and unzipped jeans that exposed his underwear and stomach. He posed next to his wife’s assistant with his hand on her waist. The assistant was also exposing her midriff and had her pants unzipped.
Falwell told a local radio station that his wife’s assistant was pregnant and couldn’t zip her pants up. He claims he was imitating her and that they took the picture in “good fun.”
“I’ve apologized to everybody, and I’ve promised my kids… I’m going to try to be a good boy from here on out,” he said.