Evangelical Jerry Falwell Jr. to head Trump education task force
Evangelical Christian leader Jerry Falwell Jr. will head an education reform task force under U.S. President Donald Trump and is keen to cut university regulations, including rules on dealing with campus sexual assault, the school he heads said.
Falwell, the son of the late televangelist Jerry Falwell Sr., was described by Trump as “one of the most respected religious leaders in our nation” last year after Falwell endorsed him during the Republican party primary race.
Falwell is president of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, which bills itself as the world’s biggest Christian university. A school spokesman, Len Stevens, said on Wednesday it was not clear yet when the task force would start its work.
Stevens said Falwell was interested in eliminating numerous regulations the U.S. Department of Education has placed on colleges and universities, adding that many college presidents felt the same, regardless of their political orientation.
“It’s an autonomy issue for universities to be able to not be micromanaged by the Department of Education,” Stevens said in an email.
Falwell also wants to cut federal rules on investigating and reporting sexual assault under Title IX, the federal law that bars sexual discrimination in education, according to Stevens.
The Liberty University head believes on-campus sexual assault investigations are best left to police and prosecutors, Stevens said.
Falwell told the Associated Press he turned down an offer from Trump to become education secretary, in part because Falwell did not want to move his family to Washington.
When Falwell introduced Trump before a speech he gave at Liberty University early last year, Falwell said he saw similarities between Trump and his father, the founder of the Moral Majority organization, including a penchant to “speak his mind.”
The Senate Education Committee sent Trump’s nomination of Betsy DeVos, a charter school advocate, to be education secretary to the full Senate on Tuesday for a confirmation vote.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Andrew Hay)