Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr. says he was offered the position of Secretary of Education by president elect Donald Trump, but has turned it down.
Citing personal and family reasons, Falwell told The Associated Press on Saturday, that Trump offered him the job last week and asked for a six to eight year commitment. Falwell stated that he didn’t feel he could leave his current position as Liberty University President or uproot his family for that length of time.
“My two sons and their wives were concerned that the incredibly positive momentum that Liberty University is experiencing could be thwarted if I suddenly left to work in D.C.,” Falwell said via email. “My wife and 16-year-old daughter also had concerns about the disruption to our lives that might result.”
Falwell said that he discussed the post in past weeks in phone calls and meetings with Trump, his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, and others in Trump’s camp. He claims that “Mr. Trump told me repeatedly that the job was mine if I wanted it.”
But in the end, Falwell turned him down.
Falwell, is a lawyer as well as president of Liberty University, the institution founded by his late father, Moral Majority leader Jerry Falwell, Sr. He has been one of the earliest and most vocal evangelical supporters of Trump. He was a strong ally throughout the tumultuous campaign that saw a good deal of resistance and dissent from Liberty students and alumni.
Falwell said Trump planned to divide the Secretary of Education role in half. The Secretary of Education would oversee colleges and universities and a separate official would oversee kindergarten through 12th grade. Falwell said Trump offered him the first post. Although he rejected the Cabinet-level position, Falwell said he agreed to play an advisory role.
On Wednesday, Trump officially announced that the Secretary of Education position was going to Betty DeVos.
“For the record,” said Falwell, “I believe Betsy DeVos is an excellent choice to be the Secretary of Education.”