A staple of the community Lincoln for over a century is closing its doors permanently in May.
Lincoln College has notified the Illinois Department of Higher Education and Higher Learning Commission of permanent closure, effective May 13, 2022. The Board of Trustees has voted to cease all academic programming at the end of the spring semester.
In a statement released Wednesday, the institution highlights its navigation through many difficult and challenging times including the economic crisis of 1887, a major campus fire in 1912, the Spanish flu of 1918, the Great Depression, World War II, the 2008 global financial crisis, and more, but this is different. Lincoln College needs help to survive.
The release noted the record-breaking student enrollment in the fall of 2019, with residence halls at maximum capacity.
Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic dramatically impacted recruitment and fundraising efforts, sporting events, and all campus life activities. 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.
Furthermore, Lincoln College was a 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. Fortunately, no personal identifying information was exposed. Once fully restored in March 2022, the projections displayed significant enrollment shortfalls, requiring a transformational donation or partnership to sustain Lincoln College beyond the current semester.
President Dr. David Gerlach said Lincoln College has been serving students from across the globe for more than 157 years and the loss of history, careers and a community of students and alumni is immense.
The institution has worked tirelessly to strengthen its financial position through fundraising campaigns, selling assets, consolidating employee positions, and exploring alternatives for the leased building in Normal. Unfortunately, these efforts did not create long-term viability for Lincoln College in the face of the pandemic.
Lincoln College encourages individuals to review the FAQ documents on the Lincoln College website for more information regarding the closure process. Academic support and transitional services will be available to students through the remainder of the semester.