Liberty University in Virginia announced Monday that its board had chosen an interim president days after Jerry Falwell Jr. began an indefinite leave of absence during an uproar over a photo he posted on social media. Jerry Prevo, who has served as chairman of the school's board of trustees since 2003 and recently retired as the senior pastor of a Baptist church in Alaska, will assume the role of acting president immediately, Liberty said in a news release. Prevo expects to work from the Lynchburg, Virginia, campus starting Aug. 17, the AP reports, and will step aside from his position on the board for the duration of the new role. Prevo, who spent 47 years as the pastor of Anchorage Baptist Temple before stepping down last year, was known for his opposition to LGBT rights and his influence in Alaska politics.
"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 said in the news release. A high-profile Trump supporter and ally, Falwell has led the private evangelical university founded by his evangelist father, the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, for 13 years. The university announced Friday that Falwell was taking a leave of absence after he posted a photo of him posing with his pants unbuttoned, stomach exposed, and his arm around a young woman who was not his wife. Falwell apologized, saying the photo was taken at a costume party while he was on vacation. Among the alumni calling for a permanent change in leadership is Colby Garman, pastor at Virginia-based Pillar Church, who said the university would be "best served" by a president who is not trying to amass political power and is "able to thoughtfully convey the (school’s) mission from a deeply Christian perspective."
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