LYNCHBURG, Va. — In a brief, one-sentence statement, Liberty University announced that its president, Jerry Falwell Jr., would be taking "an indefinite leave of absence."
"The Executive Committee of Liberty University’s Board of Trustees, acting on behalf of the full Board, met today and requested that Jerry Falwell, Jr. take an indefinite leave of absence from his roles as President and Chancellor of Liberty University, to which he has agreed, effective immediately," the statement said.
Falwell has served as president of Liberty University, his alma mater and a school his father founded in 1971, since 2007. The attorney recently came under fire for a now-deleted vacation photo that showed Falwell with his arm around a woman, revealing his bare stomach and unzipped pants.
The school also made national news in March for its decision to allow students to return to campus after spring break, despite COVID concerns, while moving classes online.
"The decision came down to whether to extend [spring] break and risk students having a longer time to become exposed to the virus, or to put everything in place in time for their return," a statement from the school said.
"Our thinking was, ‘Let's get them back as soon as we can — the ones who want to come back,'" Falwell said.
At the time, an executive order from Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam banned gatherings of more than 10 people across Virginia.
In April, students at Liberty University entered into a class-action lawsuit against the university, accusing Falwell of opening Liberty during the pandemic so that the university could keep accepting tuition fees. The federal civil suit asked for all of the spring tuition to be refunded, and for students to receive significant financial compensation.