Lincoln College, located in Illinois, is now officially closed after 157 years. The Midwestern college announced on its website that the closure was set to take place on May 13, 2022, since the COVID-19 pandemic impacted their finances and recruitment. The school was also a victim of a December 2021 cyberattack that impeded admissions activities, access to the school’s data, and the school’s ability to get a clear picture of the Fall 2022 enrollment prognosis.
“Lincoln College has been serving students from across the globe for more than 157 years,” David Gerlach, president of Lincoln College, said in an announcement. “The loss of history, careers and a community of students and alumni is immense.”
In Fall 2019, the school reached record-breaking student enrollment, with residence halls reaching maximum capacity. The COVID-19 pandemic impacted enrollment and fundraising events, sporting events, and campus activities. The pandemic required the school to invest in technology and campus safety measures, accompanied by a massive fall in enrollment due to students choosing to postpone attending college or taking a leave of absence, harming the school’s finances.
In March 2022, after the cyberattack that originated in Iran, the school caught a glimpse of its projections, which displayed that it wasn’t going to stand for much longer without a large donation or partnership to assist Lincoln College in continuing further beyond the current semester.
Gerlach told the Chicago Tribune that $50 million was the amount that would save the school. Unable to come to terms with the school’s closure, a GoFundMe with a $20 million goal was created to save Lincoln College, and students and alumni advertised the campaign to gain funds to save their school. The organizer, Demarcus Barksdale, raised only a little over $2,500.
The institution has withstood some of the most challenging times in history including the Great Depression, the Spanish flu of 1918, World War II, a campus fire in 1912, the economic crisis of 1887 and the global financial crisis in 2008. Still, the pandemic and ransomware attacks shuddered the school’s efforts to improve its financial standing.
Hackers preyed on institutions that were unprepared for the cyberattacks.
“If they do find a particular sector to be particularly profitable, they will hit this over and over and over again,” Brett Callow, a threat analyst at Emsisoft, a cybersecurity firm based in New Zealand, told the Times.
Schools that use multifactor authentication and continuously update their online security are safer than those that don’t.
“Though we are experiencing undeniable grief and sadness, we find comfort in knowing Lincoln College has served generations of alumni who have undoubtedly impacted our world,” Gerlach said.
Many people took to social media to express their remorse for the school closing.
“I am saddened to learn that Lincoln College is closing its doors after graduation this month,” Secretary Tom Vilsack wrote on Twitter. “Founded in 1865, it has been a staple of its community and state since the Civil War. I hope Lincoln’s students will continue their education, despite this regrettable closure.”
I am saddened to learn that Lincoln College is closing its doors after graduation this month. Founded in 1865, it has been a staple of its community and state since the Civil War. I hope Lincoln’s students will continue their education, despite this regrettable closure.
— Secretary Tom Vilsack (@SecVilsack) May 10, 2022
An alum tweeted, “Lincoln College is closing today, and I have been very sad about it. I graduated Lincoln College with a 3.2 and I even got an A in A and P, back when I was looking to go into nursing school.”
Lincoln College Is closing today and I have been very sad about it.
I graduated Lincoln College with a 3.2 and I even got an A in A and P, back when I was looking to go into nursing school. pic.twitter.com/T3tMEHhzVP
— BKBryon (@bryonakabk) May 13, 2022
Lincoln College was named after President Abraham Lincoln and was founded in 1865. Many news reports referred to the institution as an HBCU, confusing it for Lincoln University of Pennsylvania or Lincoln University of Missouri. But Lincoln College is a predominantly Black College, not a historically Black college or university (HBCU).