By David J. Kent
March 30, 2022
Lincoln College in Lincoln, Illinois, both named after Abraham Lincoln, suddenly announced that it would permanently close when the current semester ends May 13th. The college has existed for 157 years.
After seeing record enrollment in 2019, the college experienced severe difficulties when the COVID pandemic hit the country. According to their press release:
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.
After they were able to reopen, they became the "victim of a cyberattack in December 2021 that thwarted admissions activities and hindered access to all institutional data, creating an unclear picture of Fall 2022 enrollment projections. All systems required for recruitment, retention, and fundraising efforts were inoperable." While no personal identifying information was exposed, the college found that enrollment would be too small "to sustain Lincoln College beyond the current semester."
Thus, the Board of Trustees voted to cease all academic programming at the end of the spring semester.
The Lincoln Group of DC has its own connection to Lincoln College beyond the obvious common area of study. In 2016, under the direction of then-president John Elliff, twenty-two members of the Lincoln Group visited Lincoln's Illinois, including the town of Lincoln, Lincoln College, and the on-campus Lincoln Heritage Museum. Not far away is the bronze sculpture of a watermelon, the juice of which Abraham Lincoln used to christen the new town of Lincoln. It was the first town named after him and occurred long before he became famous.
More details of Lincoln College's fate, and that of its students, can be found on its website. David Gerlach, president of the college, had these parting words:
“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.”