Lincoln College, a small Illinois HBC founded the year its namesake was assassinated, will close this week, following a period of financial struggle capped by a ruinous cyberattack in 2021.
2019 was a record year for Lincoln College, with their highest ever enrollment rates (just over 1000), but the school was already struggling to remain afloat, trying to bumper a too-small endowment with fundraising campaigns, staff position consolidations, and leasing out several of the college buildings.
“Unfortunately, these efforts did not create long-term viability for Lincoln College in the face of the pandemic,” the school said in a press release this week.
While COVID cases fell in 2021 and college students returned to campuses, Lincoln was hit with a cyberattack from Iran that left them unable to recruit and retain students or effectively fund-raise for three months. They eventually paid the $100,000 ransom to restore their systems, but by that point, enrollment had fallen below 300 students.
Desperate, the school’s alumni organization ran a GoFundMe Campaign called Save Lincoln College. It has so far raised under $3000 out of a $20 million goal. But even if it succeeded, according to David Gerlach, the president of the school, it would take $50 million to save the school at this point.
“The loss of history, careers, and a community of students and alumni is immense,” Gerlach said in a statement.
The closure will be immediate, happening this Friday with the early wrap-up of class finals. Trying to do their best for the last cohort of students to study in this 157-year-old institution, Teach Out/Transfer Agreements have been arranged with 21 colleges, so they have somewhere to go.
Once it closes, all that will be left of the institution is the Lincoln Heritage Museum, a small museum of artifacts connected to former President Abraham Lincoln. The museum is maintained by an independent fund, and may take over the building that currently houses the McKinstry Library.