Lincoln College in Illinois will close on May 13, after 157 years of operating.
It is a small private college, with most recent enrollment figures of about 1,000.
“Lincoln College has survived many difficult and challenging times—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,” said a statement from the college.
The statement said the college “experienced record-breaking student enrollment” in the fall of 2019. “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.”
In addition, the 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.”
David Gerlach, the president, 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.”
Academic support and transitional services will be available to students through the remainder of the semester.
“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,” said Gerlach.
All of the college’s employees will be laid off May 13. Some employees will receive two months’ pay, according to WGLT, NPR Illinois.
A statement from State Senator Sally Turner and State Representative Tim Butler said, “Today’s unexpected and sudden closure announcement is devastating news for our local community. We both have had close family and friends who attended and graduated from Lincoln College, so we know just how special Lincoln is to its students and alumni. For more than 150 years, the namesake college of our 16th president has served as a higher educational pillar for central Illinois. It is painful to think that this historic institution will no longer be a part of our region.”