The global COVID-19 pandemic and a recent Iranian cyberattack have had a devastating impact on one of Illinois’ predominantly Black colleges. After 157 years, the institution is set to close its doors, after failing to raise millions of dollars for operation.
According to a statement released by Lincoln College, the institution’s board of trustees has voted to cease all academic programming at the end of the spring semester, closing the administration of the historic institution permanently on Sat., May 13.
The school says it has already notified the Illinois Department of Higher Education and Higher Learning Commission about its decision to close.
School president David Gerlach said, “Lincoln College has been serving students from across the globe for more than 157 years. The loss of history, careers and a community of students and alumni is immense.”
Student Demarcus Barksdale organized a GoFundMe telling his peers to make a “contribution to this cause that means so much” to him, raising more than 10 percent of his $20,000 goal.
Despite Lincoln having a record-breaking student enrollment in Fall 2019, multiple factors contributed to the pending closure.
Two international occurrences drastically changed the trajectory of the school, even after having so many enrollees to the degree that the residence halls were filled to maximum capacity. COVID-19 not only stopped campus life, but impeded recruitment and fundraising efforts — two major sources of income for schools.
Lincoln was not the only school to have suspended in-person instruction at some point over the last three years.
All 50 states had mandated school closures as a safety response to the coronavirus outbreak. For Illinois, on Apr. 17, 2020, Gov. J.B. Pritzker closed schools for the remainder of the academic year, a crucial move that shook all of the tuition-based institutions across the state financially.
“The economic burdens initiated by the pandemic required large investments in technology and campus safety measures, as well as a significant drop in enrollment with students choosing to postpone college or take a leave of absence, which impacted the institution’s financial position,” the statement outlined.
Read full story at Atlanta Black Star here.