LINCOLN — Lincoln College has notified the Illinois Council on Higher Education and Higher Education of the permanent closure, effective May 13, according to a school news release. The Board of Trustees voted to end all academic programs at the end of the spring semester.
“Lincoln College has served students around the world for more than 157 years,” said David Gerlach, President of Lincoln College in the press release. “The loss of history, careers and a community of students and alumni is immense.”
Students and faculty were informed of the closure during meetings on Wednesday afternoon.
The institution, named after President Abraham Lincoln, saw record student enrollment in fall 2019, with residence halls at capacity. However, the coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on recruiting and fundraising efforts, sporting events, and all campus life activities, according to the press release. The economic burdens initiated by the pandemic have necessitated significant investments in technology and security measures on campuses, as well as a significant drop in enrollment, with students choosing to postpone university or take time off, which had an impact on the institution’s financial situation.
Lincoln College enrollment was 967 students, including those seeking a bachelor’s degree.
Officials said the institution has worked to strengthen its financial position through fundraising campaigns, selling assets, consolidating employee positions and finding alternatives for the building leased to Normal. The efforts did not create long-term viability for Lincoln College in the face of the pandemic.
The college has encouraged students and staff to review the frequently asked questions section on the college’s website regarding the closure process. Academic support and transition services will be available to students for the remainder of the semester.
“Although we feel undeniable grief and sadness, we find it comforting to know that Lincoln College has served generations of alumni who have undoubtedly impacted our world,” Gerlach said.
In a joint statement, State Senator Sally Turner, R-Beason, and State Representative Tim Butler, R-Springfield, said Lincoln College’s closure is devastating news for the local community.
“We both have close family and friends who attended and graduated from Lincoln College, so we know how special Lincoln is to its students and alumni,” the statement read. “Our hearts go out to all the lives that have been abruptly disrupted by this announcement. We promise to do everything in our power to help with the transition process for students, faculty and staff affected by the closure. »
David W. Tretter, president of the Federation of Independent Colleges and Universities of Illinois, said it was a sad day for a historic institution in central Illinois.
“It’s a shame considering the legacy of the institution, the graduates, the importance of its place in the community and as an employer,” Tretter said. “Unfortunately, this is a byproduct of events over the past few years, including the state’s budget stalemate, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the challenges facing students over the past two years.”
Lincoln College alumni included Kevin Gamble of Lanphier High School, who later played in Iowa and the NBA; two-time UFC welterweight champion Matt Hughes of Hillsboro; World Series champion manager Brian Snitker of the Atlanta Braves and former US Congressman Edward Madigan.
State Journal-Register reporter Steven Spearie contributed.