Dear Commons Community.
The historically Black Lincoln College in Illinois will cease operations this Friday after 157 years, having failed to raise the funds needed to recover from the pandemic and a cyberattack that originated in Iran. As reported by The New York Times.
““The loss of history, careers, and a community of students and alumni is immense,” David Gerlach, the college’s president, said in a statement.
Reached by email on Monday, Mr. Gerlach declined to comment further.
Founded in 1865 and named for Abraham Lincoln, the college had survived the 1918 influenza pandemic, multiple recessions and two world wars.
But the pandemic led to a drop in enrollment and forced the college to make costly investments in new technology, according to the statement. Then, in December 2021, a ransomware attack walled off the school’s access to its data and halted its recruitment, retention and fund-raising campaigns.
Lincoln College, in Lincoln, Ill., has not said how much it eventually paid to regain access to its data, though Mr. Gerlach told The Chicago Tribune that it paid a ransom of less than $100,000. The ransomware attack originated in Iran, he told The Tribune.
When the college’s access to its data was restored in March, projections showed “significant enrollment shortfalls” that would require a “transformational donation or partnership to sustain Lincoln College beyond the current semester,” the school’s statement said. Mr. Gerlach told The Tribune last month that Lincoln needed $50 million to stay open. The money did not materialize.
“I believe, if we had more time, that we would have been able to have found someone but, this is all out of our control,” Annette Roter, an associate professor, said in a Facebook post consoling the thousands of students, faculty and alumni who worked to keep the school open.
A sad end to a venerble institution!