Signal Mountain native Jerry Prevo will take over as acting president of Liberty University, the school in Lynchburg, Virginia, announced Monday.
The appointment comes after the most recent controversy surrounding the former president, Jerry Falwell Jr. Earlier this month, Falwell posted a photo to his Instagram page of himself with his arm around a woman who was not his wife. Both had their pants unzipped and stomachs showing. Falwell was holding a glass of dark liquid he described in the photo caption as "just black water."
On Aug. 7, the Liberty University board announced Falwell would be taking an "indefinite leave of absence" from his role as president.
Prevo, who is originally from Signal Mountain, served on the school's board of trustees since 1996 and served as the board's chair since 2003.
Prevo moved from Signal Mountain to Alaska in 1971. In Alaska, as pastor of Anchorage Baptist Temple, he led what became a megachurch and expanded the church's school to teach hundreds of children. He has been praised by the likes of Franklin Graham and other prominent conservative Christian voices.
In a statement, Prevo thanked the board for trusting in him to lead the school.
"We have a world-class leadership team at Liberty University who will support me in running our operations on a day-to-day basis and fulfilling our spiritual mission unabated: Training Champions for Christ," Prevo said in the statement. "Please pray for us as well as the Falwell family as we embark on our academic year and so we may continue to be united in our common purpose and our faith in Christ."
Prevo's appointment comes two weeks before in-person classes are scheduled to begin on Aug. 24.
Liberty University and its former president have repeatedly faced controversy in recent years. The school invited students back to campus in the spring during the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic. Falwell also tweeted a picture of a facemask detailed with a photo of people in KKK robes and blackface to mock Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.
This summer, Black athletes at the school went public with their decisions to transfer away from Liberty, saying the school presented a racist and unwelcoming atmosphere.
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