Liberty University names Dondi Costin next president

Trustees for Liberty University announced in a press release March 31 the appointment of retired Maj. Gen. Dondi E. Costin, Ph.D., as its next president and Jonathan Falwell as chancellor.

Both will assume their duties ahead of the 2023-24 school year, trustees announced at their spring meeting.

Dondi Costin

Costin, who earned two of his five master’s degrees from Liberty, is the current president of Charleston Southern University, which is affiliated with the South Carolina Baptist Convention. Falwell is the senior pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg and son of the late Jerry Falwell, who founded both Thomas Road Church and Liberty University.

“As one whose life and ministry have been profoundly shaped by Liberty University, I can think of no educational institution with more global impact than my two-time alma mater,” Costin said. “I am beyond grateful to the Board for entrusting me with this extraordinary opportunity.”

Like his father, Falwell will continue to serve both as senior pastor at Thomas Road and chancellor at Liberty.

“With this transition, we are recommitting our institution to its founding, and singular, mission – training champions for Christ,” he said. “I look forward to serving alongside our exceptionally qualified new president to impact more lives than ever before with Christ-centered education.”

CSU built new facilities under Costin’s leadership and expanded its academic footprint in areas such as having the only four-year aviation program in the state. The university also set fundraising records and exceeded freshman enrollment goals. Costin also serves as president of the Big South Conference. He will remain in his role at CSU through the end of June.

Jonathan Falwell

Costin completed his 32-year military career at the Pentagon as Air Force Chief of Chaplains, a pastoral role through which he served more than 664,000 active-duty, Guard, Reserve and civilian forces in the United States and overseas. He also led 2,000 chaplains and chaplain assistants from the Air Force Chaplain Corps and represented the Liberty Baptist Fellowship as an endorsed chaplain.

During his career, Costin deployed in support of contingency and humanitarian relief operations across the globe. Military decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star Medal. He becomes Liberty’s sixth president and follows Jerry Falwell Jr., who resigned in August 2020.

The search process included “nearly 100 credible candidates over a period of eight months,” said the university in a statement.

Jonathan Falwell has served as senior pastor at Thomas Road Baptist Church since 2007 and on Liberty University’s board of trustees for more than 30 years. He is presently the school’s executive vice president for spiritual affairs/campus pastor.

The university’s statement also reported that Jerry Prevo, a board member who had been serving as interim president since Jerry Falwell Jr.’s resignation, would be moving to the position of president emeritus.

— Scott Barkley is national correspondent for Baptist Press.