A Deep Dive Into the Liberty University Board of Trustees

This is a look at Liberty University’s troubled Board of Trustees. This post is a deep dive looking into the members and an examination of the board itself. In the view of this blog the board is unprofessional, shoddy and has deep issues. From having someone like Jerry Vines who mishandled a sexual predator like Darryl Gilyard to having others who tout an unaccredited university degree or who have allegedly advocated disgusting memes about Hillary Clinton while in an official capacity. In the view of this blog Liberty is not going to change, the board of trustees reveals that as well.

“In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards.”

Mark Twain 

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.

Luke 2:1 NIV

A quick note about what you are about to read at this blog The Wondering Eagle. This post became the most labor intensive and difficult article to research and write in this blog’s history. Why? Its easy to write about a celebrity pastor or scandal. In this case I did a deep dive of the Liberty University Board of Trustees. Information on a number of individuals is not readily available. So in working this post I found myself being stretched to find information from new sources in addition to what I regularly use. Obituaries, Better Business Bureau records, public records and state government records were some of the many sources I found myself tapping into. Its easy to write about a James MacDonlald, C.J. Mahaney, Mark Driscoll or David Platt. Its much harder to write about people in a community that do not have as much of a cyber footprint. This information was based off about a month of work, and when I started to realize the challenge I had created for myself it became important to press through and complete this post. If there are people who have knowledge about the individuals I have written below feel free to leave it in the comment section. 

In writing this blog it never ceases to amaze me as to how my life has brushed up against certain ministries or organizations as I live my life. In 2005 I recently moved to the Washington, D.C. area from Wisconsin. The first apartment that I moved into had a massive roach problem and management would not deal with it. So I broke my lease and moved to the Alexandria, Virginia area. I often drove past a church called Calvary Road Baptist Church on Beulah Road in Alexandria. Looking for a church one Sunday morning I decided to check out David Rhodenizer’s Calvary Road Baptist Church. The church, which is Southern Baptist, was quite formal, more than what I was used to seeing in evangelicalism. People dressed more formal than I was wearing at the time. But unlike an experience I once had in a Baptist church in Wisconsin I did not feel any hostility about wearing jeans or not wearing a shirt and tie. That Sunday morning I don’t know who preached but I still recall parts of the sermon. It was about patience. and the preacher spent time talking about going to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles and waiting for your drivers license. After the service I left and eventually became involved in Mark Batterson’s National Community Church and also Lon Solomon’s McLean Bible Church. But as I did a deep dive into the Liberty Board of Trustees I remain stunned how I attended a church for a service that has very close ties to Liberty University. 

Liberty University Board of Trustees

As the scandal with Liberty University has unfolded and discussions came up about the Board of Trustees I began to become more curious. Who was on the board? What were their qualifications? What could be learned about individual members? So I decided to set out and do a post about the board of trustees. To understand the scandal and problems at Liberty I was certain the answers lie with the board of trustees, Below is a deep dive looking at the 32 members of the board. Afterward this blog will provide analysis based upon what it uncovers. 

Dr. Brian Autry – Expires November 8, 2022

Brian Autry today is the executive director of SBC of Virginia which is a fellowship of more than 700 Baptist churches inside the Commonwealth of Virginia. The SBC of Virginia works with the Southern Baptist Convention. Before being the executive director of SBC of Virginia he led Parkway Baptist Church in Mosely, Virginia which he helped launch in 2002. Brian also served on the staff of Kempsville Baptist Church and served as the state director for student ministries of SBC of Virginia. The Autry’s served as missionaries for the SBC North American Missions Board. He also also served as a trustee for Southern Seminary. It appears Brian is from Virginia having attended James Madison University for college. He obtained his MDiv form Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from Southern Seminary. He has not published any books and I ran his churches against Baptist Accountability and Stop Baptist Predators other online resources and nothing came up. 

Anthony Beckles – Expires November 8, 2022

Anthony Beckles is the online chair of the School of Business of Liberty University. He originally came from the Bahama’s and was a track and field star at Liberty. He attended undergrad and grad school at Liberty. His background is in financial audits and financial controller. He came to Lynchburg in 2003 eventually served as the chief financial officer for K12 public schools for Lynchburg. 

Gaye Overton Benson – Expires November 8, 2022

Gaye Overton Benson is married to Jeffrey Benson who played football at Liberty. She is originally from Chesapeake, Virginia. Her degree is in political science. The Overton family have been long time givers to Liberty. Jeffrey runs the Overton Family Partnership which develops and manages commercial real estate, residential development and home construction in the Tidewater, Virginia area. 

Jeffrey F. Benson – Expires November 8, 2022

Jeffrey Benson is married to Gayle Benson who I wrote about above. Jeffrey also lives un Chesapeake, Virginia and is a businessman.

Dr. John Borek – Expires October 30, 2023 

Dr. John Borek served as President of Liberty University from 1997 until 2004. This blog hasn’t been able to find too much information. But one issue this blog did discoverer is how Borek downplayed the resignation of Daniel Lovett, the President of Tennessee Temple University in 2011. Tennessee Temple University has since closed in 2015. According to Nooga Today Borke said the following about Lovett’s resignation. “We did not ask him to resign and we did not fire him, he resigned himself,” Borek said. “My personal opinion is that he considered those things. But in the end, he did not use those things as the basis for offering his resignation.” In the situation Borek would not name Leavitt’s plagiarism. Borek at the time was the Chairman of the Board of Trustees. You can read more about the scandal here

Dr. Don Crain – Expires on November 4, 2021

Don Crain is a retired Southern Baptist pastor who lives in Mechanicsville, Virginia. Today he is a regional associate for SBC of Virginia. Crain attended Liberty University for grad school and did his undergrad at Southern Arkansas University. 

Dr. Jack Dinsbeer – Lifetime Appointee

Jack Dinsbeer is one of only two members of the Liberty University Board of Trustees who has been appointed to a lifetime term as an emeritus trustee. He grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and joined the Army after World War II. He attended Bible Baptist Seminary and Jacksonville University. In the fall of 1951 he worked at Park Avenue Baptist Church where he mentored Jerry Falwell Sr and helped to make him the man he became. This past year he has been teaching Zachariah at Baymeadows Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida. He has done an oral history which can be accessed here

Jonathan Falwell – Expires November 8, 2022

Jonathan Falwell is one of the sons of Jerry Falwell Sr. Today he is the senior pastor of Thomas Roads Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia. It was under Jonathan that Thomas Roads began to become more technologically inclined. Jonathan grew Thomas Rpads and created a church planting network called Liberty Church Network to train pastors and work on church planting. 

Harvey Gainey – Expires on November 2, 2021

Harvey Gainey is a businessmen in Grand Haven, Michigan. He is close with the Falwell family and has a long history with them. He received a Michigan Civic Leader award in 2009 for supporting the arts. Gainey also helped keep Liberty open when the school was financially struggling. In 2010 the Gainey Corporation went bankrupt and its name is no longer attached to the trucking firm in Michigan that bore its name. It appears as if the problems with the Gainey Corporation accelerated after the 2008 credit crisis. Wayzata Capital Management Inc. purchased Gainey Corp. at auction for $77.8 million in November of 2009. When it filed for bankruptcy protection it was $240 million in debt and had a hostile relationship with lender Wachovia Bank. You can read more about the business problems here in the Michigan press. And finally if this is the same Harvey Gainey on Facebook, which I believe it is due to his check-in at Liberty, then he also shared conspiracy theories and memes about Hillary Clinton. One of the more godly ones I captured and have below. 

Will Graham – Expires on November 8, 2022

Will Graham is the oldest son of Franklin Graham. He attended Liberty University and graduated in 1997. He also attended Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2001. He is the executive director of the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove and associate evangelist of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

John Heath – Expires on October 30, 2023

John Heath is a retired businessman in living in Troutville, Virginia. Troutville is a small town of about 400 people in Southwestern Virginia.

Carroll Hudson – Expires on October 30, 2023

Hudson is a businessman in Lynchburg, Virginia and is the CEO of England’s Stove Works. He’s been the CEO since May of 2005. You can read about Hudson bringing on a new president of his company in 2015 here. When I researched England’s Stove Works I discovered a number of complaints listed at the Better Business Bureau. It also appears as if Hudson was one of the more dedicated defenders of Jerry Falwell Jr. He sung the praises of Jerry Falwell Jr to the News and Advance.  Here is what he said to the newspaper. “He’s the best thing that’s ever happened at Liberty,” Carroll Hudson, a trustee and a member of the board’s executive committee, said this week. “If you look at the gains we’ve had, why would you have any concerns?

Angela Jordan – Expires on November 8, 2022

Angela is a businesswoman in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I spent a couple of hours researching Angela and I could not find much information online. If anyone has any information please feel free to post it below.

Dr. Richard Lee – Expires on November 8, 2022

Dr. Richard Lee is a Southern Baptist pastor who used to lead First Redeemer Church in Cummings, Georgia. Richard obtained a Psychology degree from Mercer University. His masters came from Luther Rice Seminary and his Doctor of Ministry also came from Luther Rice. He did postdoctoral studies at the University of Oxford. In 2019 the University of Georgia took his sermons, books, broadcasts, writings and added them to the special collections of the library. Richard Lee has published 22 books including, “The NKJV, American Patriot’s Bible, Hardcover: The Word of God and the Shaping of America” and “The Battle for the Soul of America and How Christians Can Win It” In addition Dr. Lee was a spiritual advisor to President Trump. He also is serving on, The Oxford Roundtable, Oxford, England; the National Religious Broadcasters; The Council for National Policy; The Conservative Action Project; The National Association of Christian Lawmakers; Lee also served in a number of positions within the Southern Baptists over the years. He is known for his advocacy of Christian nationalism. 

Tim Lee – Expires on November 2, 2021

Tim Lee is an evangelist based out of Rowlett, Texas. He’s a pastor’s kid with his father preaching in the Southern Baptist Convention. Tim served in Vietnam and lost both his legs. He uses the experience to give motivational talks and discuss and preach about faith. He speaks to both secular and spiritual audiences. For example he gives motivational talk to the Marines in Perris Island, South Carolina. Tim has spoken at Department of Defense events. He’s a common individual to see on Fox News. He’s very much into the culture wars. Tim has also published, “Born on the Fifth of July” which Oliver North of the Iran-Contra scandal wrote the forward.  

Dr. Allen McFarland – Expires on November 2, 2021

Allan McFarland is currently the acting chairman of the Board of Trustees and is the first African-American to do be appointed. He stepped into Jerry Prevo’s role while he leads a new president search of Liberty University. Originally he is from Charleston, South Carolina. He has been leading Calvary Evangelical Baptist Church which is located in Portsmouth, Virginia since 1982.  He has served on the board of Liberty since 1991. Other hats he was worn include the president of the Southern Baptist Convention of Virginia, and on the board of directors of Kids Across America, Baptist Fellowship Association, and the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE).The Black Christian News Network claims he is one of the nations’ 70th most influential black history maker currently living today. He shared in an interview with the SBC of Virginia that he has a speech impediment. It appears as if he has not published any books. You can read more about McFarland here.

 Dr. Gene Mims – Expires on November 8, 2022

Dr. Gene Mims served as the senior pastor who founded Judson Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee. He is a graduate of Virginia Tech  and has two degrees from Southwestern Baptist Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He is known for speaking and holding conferences about church leadership, health and growth. He is an author who has written “Kingdom Principles for Church Growth” , “The Kingdom Focused Church: A Compelling Image of an Achievable Future for Your Church” , “Moses on Leadership: How to Become a Great Leader in Forty Short Years” and “Open Windows: Southern Babtist Guide for Personal Devotions” With John Perry, Mims wrote, “The 7 Churches Not in the Book of Revelation.Gene Mims speaks on the conference circuit. In addition to Liberty he serves on the boards of The Kingstone Media Group, The Timothy Initiative. He was also the vice president of Lifeway Christian Resources for thirteen years and was the president of the International Baptist Network for tow years. 

Penny Nance – Expires on October 30, 2023

Penny Nance is a culture war individual. She is the CEO and President of Concerned Women of America which is known for the culture wars against pornography, abortion, religious rights, and similar issues. She is a graduate of Liberty University.   She writes a lot for The Christian Post, Newsmax, The Federalist and offers opinions in mainstream publications. She works closely with the Trump White House on the Life Advisory Council and considers herself to be a modern day Esther. She became one of the leading advocates for capturing and winning the Supreme Court. And it also appears that she is a COVID-19 denier. In nearly all the pictures I have seen of Penny I have not really seen her wear a facemask or practice social distancing during the pandemic. The Washington Post recently published a story about how Penny was a superspreeder for COVID-19 during an Amy Barrett for Supreme Court bus tour. You can read the response in The Federalist here. Finally she is also an advocate in claiming that Joe Biden stole the election and has participated in events ad rallies claiming the election was stolen. In the view of this blog its quite clear she personally struggles with reality in her efforts to support a malignant narcissist in the White House. 

Richard Osborne – Expires on November 4, 2021

Originally from Atlanta, Richard Orborne is a graduate of Liberty University in 1979. He is a businessman in the Baltimore, Maryland area. According to Linkedin he is the owner of a company called Direct Real Estate. From 1986 until 2006 he was the CEO of USA Direct in the York, Pennsylvania area. His home is in Oxford, Maryland which is on the Eastern shore and one of the oldest towns in the state. In studying his social media it appears he also likes to regularly share false information which Facebook has flagged. He allegedly respects Dinesh D’Souza, and Candace Owens.  

Galen E. Peel, Sr. – Expires November 8, 2022

Galen E. Peel is a businessman in Forest, Virginia. This bog could not find very much information on him. Forest is a part of the Lynchburg metropolitan area and is considered a superb. 

Dr. Jerry Prevo – Expires November 8, 2022

This blog did a stand along post on the history and background of Jerry Prevo. You can read that post in, “A Closer Look at Jerry Prevo Formerly of Anchorage Baptist Temple and Now the Acting President of Liberty University.” 

Dr. Harold Rawlings – Expires on November 4, 2021

Dr. Harold Rawlings originally from Arkansas calls Florence, Kentucky home today. It appears he has some background in the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Church according to my research. Rawlings holds degrees from Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Missouri and Bob Jones University in South Carolina which is affiliated with the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Church. Then he attended California Graduate School of Theology and got his PhD from Louisiana Baptist University. As a university Louisiana Baptist University is unaccredited by the United States Department of Education. He claims to have served on the board of  Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Criswell College, Luther Rice University, Louisiana Baptist University, Arlington Baptist College, and Bible Seminar in Bornheim, Germany. He is also involved in the Tyndale Society and The Evangelical Theological Society. His first ministry experience was in St. Louis for six years and then he started working at Landmark Baptist Temple in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1963. He worked alongside his father until he took over and served in the Cincinnati area from 1984 until 2001. He is known for a sermon he gave in the White House in 1969 called “The World’s Most Amazing Book” which was entered into the congressional record. Rawlings has five kids are also involved in ministry. Rawlings 

Dr. Dwight “Ike” Reighard – Expires November 4, 2021

Dr. Dwight “Ike” Reighard is the Senior Pastor of Piedmont Church in Marietta, Georgia since February of 2007 and is known for advocating business principles inside the evangelical church. Ike was the Chief People Officer of Homebanc Mortgage in Atlanta. He attended college at Mercer in Pennsylvania and seminary at Luther Rice. He is also a speaker and trainer in the corporate world. In his career he founded NorthStar Church in Kennesaw, Georgia and was the lead pastor at the north campus of First Baptist Church of Atlanta. He was also the senior pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Georgia. He is currently the CEO and president of MUST Ministries in Georgia. Reighard is the author of “The One Year Daily Insights with Zig Ziglar.” 

Chris Rhodenhizer – Expires November 8, 2022

Chris Rhodenhizer is the pastor of Image Church in Woodbridge, Virginia. He is involved with Liberty’s Church Planting network, He wrote an older blog a few years ago but has given that up it appears. He is married and has four children. 

Dr. David Rhodenhizer – Expires October 30, 2023

David Rhodenhizer is the pastor of Calvary Road Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia outside Washington, D.C. originally from Lynchburg, Virginia and was involved in Thomas Road Baptist Church where Jerry Falwell Sr was the pastor. In 1974 he graduated from Lynchburg Baptist College which is the predecessor to Liberty University. He served on church staff in Virginia and Alabama before coming to Northern Virginia to start New Life Baptist Church in 1977. In 1979 New Life Baptist merged with Calvary Road Baptist Church and become one congregation. David Rhodenhizer has led the church for 41 years since 1979.  He is also the author of “One like spirit, one great vision: A journey of faith.” 

Steven A. Snyder – Expires on November 8, 2022

Steven Snyder attended Liberty University and then went on to the University of Liberty Law School. Today he works as an attorney in Greenville, South Carolina. He co-owns the firm Davis and Snyder, P.A. The firms focus is medical malpractice and negligence. Snyder has long focused on medical malpractice and negligence for doctors, nurses, hospitals on the issues of medical malpractice. He also advises hospitals and medical professionals on how to avoid lawsuits and risk. He is an elder in his church and takes foreign missions trips. You can read more of his background here

Dr. Jerry Thorpe – Emeritus Trustee and serving Lifetime Term

Jerry Thorpe is a retired pastor who led Temple Baptist Church, which became Crossroads Fellowship in Texas. He led the church in 1984 and took over the church from his father and he worked at the church until 2000. Temple is the largest church in Odessa, Texas. Jerry is pastor emeritus who travels and speaks around the county. Thorpe picked up an associate of science degree at Odessa College, BA of University of Texas, and he also attended Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Missouri and Texas Tech University of Lubbock, Texas. At Liberty University he has been on the board of trustees since May of 1988. 

Gilbert “Bud” Tinney, Jr. Expires on November 2, 2021

Gilbert “Bud” Tinney Jr is a businessman in Michigan where he is in the automotive business with Tinney Automotive. The original automotive business was started on January 1, 1954 and the Tinney family purchased and incorporated it on January 29, 2001 with the date of new ownership on March 29, 2001. According to the Better Business Bureau they had 64 employees and are currently down to 55. This blog has spent a considerable amount of time trying to figure out if Gilbert “Bid” Tinney, Jr. is the same as Gilbert Tinney. In my research using Liberty directories and yearbooks I found a Gib Tinney who was at Liberty in the 1991 academic year, and his hometown was listed as Lakeland, Florida. According to Florida government records the Tinney family owned a Cadillac dealership in Lakeland which was dissolved it appears in 2003. Gib’s borther William Tinney also co-owns Tinney Automotive it appears. You can see both of them on the Tinney website here

Will Tinney – Expires on November 8, 2022

For more information on Will Tinney see Gilbert “Bud” Tinney above. 

Dr. Jerry Vines – Expires on November 8, 2022

Jerry Vines, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention also led the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Florida. First Baptist is a mega church inside the Southern Baptist Convention that currently has 28,000 members and 3,000 who attend each weekend. He attended Mercer, New Orleans Baptist Seminary and Luther Rice for this theological training. Vines is also remembered for his Islamaphobia when he received scathing criticism from Muslims for calling the prophet Muhammad a pedophile after the September 11, 2001 attacks. You can read more about that here and here. Jerry Vines has also become a representation of the crisis with child sex abuse inside the Southern Baptist Convention. It was Jerry Vines, who gave a sexual predator Darrell Gilyard another platform at First Baptist Church. Gilyard was a traveling evangelist inside the SBC who was dogged by allegation of sexual assault and abuse at a previous church. In his published autobiography Vines cast doubt on the sexual assault victim Tiffany Croft by saying that she was single when Gilyard assaulted her. Croft reported the assault to Jerry Vines at the time, who it appears failed to contact the police. Here is how FBC Jax Wathcdog wrote about the situation at his blog FBC Jax Watchdog.

Jerry Vines and his publisherB&H Publishing Group – a division of the SBC’s LifeWay Christian Resources – have some serious explaining to do on why Vines’ book is not truthful on a pivotal aspect of Vines involvement in the Darrell Gilyard saga: the attempted attack by Gilyard on one of Vines’ own teenage church members back in 1991.

Here is the excerpt from Vines’ book (with my emphases) that I’m going to address:

“There were rumors [about Gilyard]. Accusations of moral improprieties began to surface. All of them were denied by Darrell. Dr. Patterson checked them out as best he could. There were inconsistencies and contradictions in the stories. Some were made by church members who had moral failings themselves. One accuser was a member of the KKK. As it turns out, all the rumors were true. A young person in our FBC, Jacksonville church met with me about a matter of impropriety as well. I didn’t understand it to go beyond some flirtation. They were both single at the time. Perhaps I misunderstood.

That “young person” Vines refers to is Tiffany Thigpen Croft, a high school senior who Gilyard attacked in 1991 while Gilyard was the traveling evangelist for the high school choir and orchestra of Vines’ church during the spring of 1991.

Did you get that? Darrell Gilyard was supposed to be the “man of God” to give spiritual teachings to Tiffany and her fellow high school students, but instead Gilyard used the privilege – after grooming Tiffany for a period of time prior to that – to attempt a sexual attack on Tiffany. Thankfully Tiffany escaped, and she was able to report the attack to her parents.

And Tiffany reported it to her pastor, Jerry Vines.

Now let’s go back and look at the last sentence again:

“…A young person in our FBC Jacksonville church met with me about a matter of impropriety as well. I didn’t understand it to go beyond some flirtation. They were both single at the time. Perhaps I misunderstood.”

There is almost nothing in that sentence that is true. To characterize Gilyard’s attack on Tiffany as a “flirtation” is an insult to Tiffany and her parents, and every other young woman who has been victimized by an abusive pastor – especially the multitudes that were victimized by Gilyard. When most people use the word “flirtation” or “flirt”, it is in the context of a female “flirting” with a man – this seems as a direct attempt to imply that Tiffany’s own actions invited or in some measure caused Gilyard’s attack.

Vines says “Perhaps I misunderstood”. How could he have misunderstood, past tense? Tiffany was brave enough to report the details of the attack to her parents and to Vines immediately after it occurred. And according to this 1991 Dallas Morning News article, Paige Patterson and presumably Vines, knew of multiple allegations of Gilyard’s sexual improprieties with young women all the way back to 1987! Let that sink in!!  The obvious question Vines should have answered in his bio: why on earth was Gilyard given the opportunity to be around his high schoolers in 1991 when Vines and Patterson knew of allegations against Gilyard all the way in 1987? To say “perhaps I misunderstood” and that he thought Gilyard’s attack on Tiffany was a “flirtation” defies common sense and is just not believable.

Also in the excerpt above, Vines claims “…they [Tiffany and Gilyard] were both single at the time.”. A very clever way to characterize the situation to make it appear as though Tiffany and Gilyard were very close in age, or peers, or mutually consenting young adults.That could not be further from the truth. Of course Tiffany was single – as are 99.99% of HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS, Jerry!!! But Gilyard absolutely was NOT single at the time. He was married with at least one child. Why didn’t Vines write something like, “…the young person was only a high school senior, and Darrell was a married 29-year old very influential pastor?”  Not that it matters if Gilyard was married – an attack on a teenager is an attack on a teenager – but why would Vines and his editor at B&H get this fact wrong in his book and leave out the important fact of Tiffany being a teenage high school student, and Gilyard a predatory preacher with prior allegations, preying on a very young woman who looked up to Gilyard? Are we to believe Vines and B&H Publishing were so careless that they didn’t fact check this? And even more disturbing: why did Vines not call Tiffany or her parents BEFORE publishing? How about the courtesy of a phone call to Tiffany to let her know what’s coming out, and to make sure Vines has his facts straight?  Where was the B&H editor? Or perhaps this was Vines’ attempt to minimize the validity of Tiffany’s claim and the seriousness of the incident now 23 years later?

If you go to FBC Jax Watchdog you will find much more about Jerry Vines, some of it troubling. Jerry Vines had also published a number of books. His most current are, “Power in the Pulpit: How to Prepare and Deliver Expository Sermons” and “Progress in the Pulpit: How to Grow in Your Preaching.” 

Duke Westover – Expires on November 8, 2022

Duke Westover is a businessman in Lynchburg, Virginia. He is originally from Houston, Texas and worked in mechanical engineering and sheet metal industries. In 1966 he founded a church construction company and helped build many churches around the United States. He also built Thomas Road Baptist Church and became close to Jerry Falwell Sr in 1969. Duke Westover also acted as Jerry Falwell Sr’s personal assistant for years. His oral history about Jerry Falwell Sr is in the Liberty University library.  Today Duke Westpver is a wholesale tour operator working out of Lynchburg, Virginia. His focus is on tours of Israel. The company is called DuCar International Tours and was founded in 1981. Over the past three decades DuCar has organized tours for churches, Christian ministries, political and television personalities, advocacy organizations and college students for credit. DuCar International tours has arranged tours for such personalities as Mike Huckabee, Oliver North, Glen Beck, Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, Ergun Caner, Jerry Falwell, Jonathan Falwell, Jerry Prevo, and Benny Hinn among others. 

Jeffrey S. Yager – Expires on November 2, 2021

Is a businessman based in Fort Mill, South Carolina. He runs the Yager Group of Companies since 1979. But his most active appears to be Yager Development Corporation in Palm City, Florida where he serves as the president. It is registered as a Florida Domestic Profit Corporation filed on July 8, 1994. The address according to Realtor.com is a private two story residence. But mail for Yager Development Corporation is sent to South Carolina. This also appears to be a Yeagar family business. There are six different people on record as being principals. The are Thomas K Emery from Ft Mill, South Carolian; Birdie N Yager from Palm City, Florida;  Dexter R Yager from Palm City, Florida; Doyle L Yager from Fort Mill, South Carolina; Jeffrey S Yager from Ft Mill, South Carolina; and Steven R Yager from Fort Mill, South Carolina.  


Board of Trustees Committees

These are the current board of trustees at Liberty University. 

Executive Committee

Harvey Gainey – Chairman
Carroll Hudson
Evangelist Tim Lee
Dr. Jerry Prevo
Dr. David Rhodenhizer
Gilbert “Bud” Tinney, Jr.
Dr. Jerry Vines

David Corry (LU General Counsel)

Investment Committee

Jeffrey F. Benson – Chairman
Anthony Beckles
Don Moon (Non-Board Member)
John J. Regan (Non-Board Member)
Joseph S. Steinberg (Non-Board Member)
Will Tinney
Jeffrey S. Yager

Rob Ritz (LU Staff Liaison)

Spiritual Mission Committee

Pastor Jonathan Falwell – Chairman
Gaye Overton Benson
Dr. Don Crain
Dr. Allen McFarland
Dr. Dwight “Ike” Reighard
Dr. Jerry Vines
Duke Westover

David Nasser (LU Staff Liaison)

Audit Committee

Richard Osborne – Chairman
Dr. John Borek
Dennis Farrell (Non-Board Member)
Evangelist Will Graham
Angela Jordan
John Heath
Steven A. Snyder

Cindy Gaebe (Internal Auditor)

President and Chancellor Search Committee

Gilbert “Bud” Tinney, Jr. – Chairman
Anthony Beckles
Pastor Jonathan Falwell
Dr. Harvey Gainey
Carroll Hudson
Dr. Richard Lee
Evangelist Tim Lee
Penny Nance
David Rhodenhizer
Duke Westover

Ron Kennedy (LU Staff Liaison)


Analysis and Issues with the Liberty University Board of Trustees

After spending time looking at all 32 board members this blog sees the Liberty Board as being deeply flawed. In understanding the Board one can better understand Liberty’s problems. This blog regards Jerry Falwell Jr as being the Kim Jong Un of Liberty University. Falwell treated Liberty like it was his own personal North Korea. And in studying the board, they enabled and allowed it to happen. There are a number of issues to raise. 

  1. Nepotism is a challenge with the with Liberty Board of Trustees. How would Jonathan Farwell ever call out his brother and hold him to account? He won’t for family reasons. What about Gilbert “Bud” Tinney and Will Tinney? What about Chris and David Rhodenhizer? Should two members of the same family be on the board of a non-profit? Nepotism is a major problem in evangelicalism and one of the reasons why it is toxic. Family loyalty is more important than being objective stewards. 
  2. The board turnover is poor. In looking over Liberty University yearbooks for the past two decades I noticed that there was hardly any board turn over. No fresh new ideas. No accountability. People would rotate off and then a year they would be back on. Many people on the board boast of how long they have served on it. For example on Tim Lee’s webpage he reveals as to how long he has served on the board. Tim has been on the board since 1991. In this situation there is really no accountability and it allowed for Jerry Falwell Jr to control the board. 
  3. It appears as if people were chosen for the board based on how loyal they were to the Falwell family. Is this why people like Duke Westover are on the board? A number of people talked about in my research their loyalty to Jerry Falwell Sr. Lets be clear that at Liberty for a lot of people Jerry Falwell Sr is God. He was viewed as God. This blog has heard a couple of stories were staff at Liberty viewed being in the presence of Falwell as being the most enriching or important time of their life. It was their Mary moment (see Luke 10:38-42) where they sat at the feet of their savior Jerry Falwell Sr.
  4. Inability to call out scandal on other boards was also observed in this research.  In another scandal at another university in Tennessee Dr. John Borek refused to call out and address another pastors’ plagiarism. He was uncomfortable to do so. Now here is the question this blog would like to ask. If plagiarism is too disturbing for John Borek to discuss how can he discuss the fact that Jerry Falwell Jr used to sit in the corner of his hotel room drunk while allegedly watching Becki Falwell being mounted. 
  5. Sex abuse cover up and mishandling should disqualify people from being on the board of trustees. Jerry Vines badly mishandled Darrell Gilyard at First Baptist Church of Jacksonville. The police allegedly were not consulted and he gave a person who preyed sexually on teenagers another platform which led to Tiffany Croft being targeted and abused. When confronted Jerry Vines lied about it even according to FBC Jax in his book. How can a man who was involved in such a cover up provide objective accountability at Liberty? he can’t. Was he chosen so that Jerry Falwell Jr could get his way and manipulate the board? 
  6. People were chosen for their politics and not their faith. But consider Harvey Gainey who allegedly had that meme of Hillary Clinton on his Facebook page. What would happen by the way if a Liberty student used the word bitch? How many demerits and punishment would he get? But how is a person who allegedly posts such a meme going to provide accountability for Jerry Falwell Jr? What does it show for their Christian faith were they have someone duct taped and treated in such a way? I noticed when I worked across the board that many were invovled in the culture wars. Was that why they were chosen to be on the Liberty Board of Trustees? This blog would say yes. 
  7. Accreditation issues are also a problem. For example Harold Rowlings touts a degree from Louisiana Baptist University which as a university is unaccredited. How can someone who touts a degree be on a board of trustees? Would that be the policy of academic schools like University of Virginia? University of Wisconsin – Madison? State University of New York? Washington State University in Pullman, Washington? University of Arizona? 

This all reveals quite a bit from my perspective. The Liberty University Board of Trustees is a joke. The school is not going to change. When one of the members of the board has allegedly posted memes claiming that Hillary Clinton is a bitch and should be duct taped up, there is not going to be any accountability at all. Why anyone would want to attend Liberty is beyond me especially as I see the issues which loom large. This blog now has a greater understanding of how Jerry Falwell Jr got away with so much. The problems at Liberty are systemic and deep’ and they will not be undone. The board would have to resign and major changes would have to take place but that is not going to happen as Liberty is a family business for the Falwells. 



7 thoughts on “A Deep Dive Into the Liberty University Board of Trustees

  1. As an individual who has been employed by, served on the boards of, and advised 502(c)3’s, this entire article is a serious indictment of the Liberty Board.

    I agree with your assessment that Liberty will never change, but continue on a dysfunctional path and will ultimately lose its credibility as a university as the myth of the Fallwells disperses over time.


    • I’m wondering how much disinfectant Eagle had to scrub down with after that Deep Dive.
      Like a MOPP Level 4 Decontamination Protocol.


  2. Hi Eagle,

    I remember you fondly from some years ago in Internetmonk; only recently have caught up with your blog.

    Your deep dive clicked a bit for me. I don’t know any of these nuts and berries, other than to say 50 years ago, a Tinney family lived on my street in Buffalo NY. My older brother went to school and shot hoops with their son. They were the sole Cadillac dealer in Buffalo. I’m assuming that bunch moved to Florida and got Southern-fried religion.

    Your analysis is spot on: “the problems at Liberty are systemic and deep, and they will not be undone.” Despite Junior’s foibles, LU remains a fundamentalist bastion where parents will keep sending their kids to act as a four year babysitter and hook them up with a suitable spouse. That little defamation spat Jerry had with the college never made it to discovery. It was the only possibility of letting some sunshine into the whole mess. Whatever findings the internal “investigation” drudges up will never be publicized. I don’t discount the possibility that a thoroughly chastised but repentant Junior will return to the helm. At least he has plenty of progeny and kissing cousins working there to rehabilitate his legacy. And so long as LU remains a cash cow, no one will move the needle.

    I think John Fea hit the mark – Falkirk. So long as that PAC “think tank” is allowed to continue, that is the true standard to measure whether LU will see a need to change.


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