One of the most ardent religious proponents for Donald Trump‘s presidential campaign was Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University, a private and nonprofit Christian institution located in Lynchburg, Virginia. His father Jerry Falwell, a famous Southern Baptist preacher and televangelist, famously co-founded the so-called “Moral Majority” and often railed against progressive politicians on the political left. Falwell Jr. has done the same, even when Trump’s campaign seemed in danger following multiple allegations of sexual harassment.
Now it seems Falwell Jr.’s unflinching support of Trump is reaping its reward, for according to Liberty University, the evangelical leader has been asked by the White House to lead a “task force” designed to reform the country’s higher education system. Per NBC News, university spokesperson Len Stevens said Falwell Jr. would investigate methods for doing away with “overregulation and micromanagement of higher education.” The man himself didn’t speak with NBC News, though he did confirm the appointment with the Chronicle of Higher Education on Tuesday:
“The goal is to pare it back and give colleges and their accrediting agencies more leeway in governing their affairs,” said Mr. Falwell, who said he had been discussing possible issues with several other college leaders and at least one head of an accrediting agency for the past two months. “I’ve got notebooks full of issues,” he said.
Trump apparently asked Falwell Jr. to serve as his Secretary of Education when the two met in November, but he turned it down for “a role that would allow [him] to stay at Liberty.” Hence the task force position, which Falwell Jr. accepted while praising Betsy DeVos‘ nomination for the job he turned down. “The task force will be a big help to her,” he added. “It will do some of the work for her.” Interestingly, he was barred from speaking publicly about the matter until Steve Bannon gave him the go ahead.
Though the son of a pastor and an outspoken evangelical Christian, Falwell Jr. earned a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1987 and has worked in higher education ever since. That said, Liberty University and his leadership of it have come under fire before — including Bill Maher’s past criticism regarding the school’s accrediting body, and when the school fined students for not attending a mandatory address by then presidential candidate Ted Cruz.