March 13, 2024

B. Keith Faulkner Receives 2024 Leadership in Education Award

Portrait of B. Keith Faulkner.B. Keith Faulkner, president of Charleston Southern University in South Carolina, has been named this year’s recipient of the William R. Rakes Leadership in Education Award by the Virginia State Bar Section on the Education of Lawyers in Virginia.

The Rakes Award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated exceptional leadership and vision in improving legal education as well as in advancing relationships and professionalism among members of the academy, the bench, and the bar within the legal profession in Virginia.

Faulkner has had a distinguished career in education administration and academia that spans two decades and includes leadership at two Virginia institutions of higher education: at Liberty University School of Law as a former dean and at Appalachian School of Law as a former president and dean.

Faulkner’s time at Liberty University School of Law from 2015–2021 was marked by success and growth for the school. At Liberty Law, Faulkner led efforts in establishing the Virginia Legal Aid Clinic, the Intellectual Property Clinic, a Professionalism Series for first-year law students, and the first financial planning program exclusively based in a J.D. program registered with the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc.

Additionally, Liberty Law was recognized as having the nation’s seventh highest bar passage rate in 2019—a product of a bar preparation program Faulkner championed. He also taught a Law Practice Management course and oversaw the development of an Honors Program at the law school. By the time Faulkner departed Liberty Law, enrollment had increased over 50 percent.

Kristine H. Smith, director of Employer & Student Services at Liberty University School of Law, nominated Faulkner for this award.

“Keith Faulkner is an exceptional leader, communicator, team motivator, and visionary, and has a remarkable record of enhancing communication, cooperation, and meaningful collaboration among the three constituencies of the legal profession,” Smith wrote in her nomination letter.

After his celebrated tenure at Liberty Law, Faulkner became the president and dean of Appalachian School of Law—located in Grundy—until 2023, when he joined Charleston Southern University, his undergraduate alma mater, as president.

In the Virginia legal community, Faulkner served as a representative on the Virginia Bar Association’s Board of Governors and as chair of the VSB’s Section on the Education of Lawyers in Virginia. He also was a board member of the Commonwealth Alliance for Rural Colleges as well as the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia.

Faulkner received his J.D. from the Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law at Campbell University and his LL.M. at Baylor University School of Law. Before attending law school, Faulkner served in the U.S. Navy as a nuclear power plant operator and technician.

The Leadership in Education Award will be presented to Faulkner on May 31, 2024, at the VSB Annual Meeting in Virginia Beach.