Cyberattack, COVID-19 blamed for closing historically Black college in Illinois

CHICAGO — After 157 years, Lincoln College, a historically Black college in Illinois, is closing permanently.

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In a statement posted to its website, Lincoln College said the school would close permanently, effective May 13.

“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,” the statement said in part.

Despite record enrollment in 2019, Lincoln College said it struggled financially despite fundraising campaigns and layoffs, The Associated Press reported.

The college pointed to 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. … 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.”

ANNOUNCEMENT: Abraham Lincoln’s Namesake College Set to Close After 157 Years Lincoln College has notified the Illinois...

Posted by Lincoln College on Wednesday, March 30, 2022

David Gerlach, the president of Lincoln College, told The Chicago Tribune that the school had to pay a ransom to regain access to the system. While he wouldn’t specify an exact amount, Gerlach told the outlet that the payment was under $100,000.

“Lincoln College has been serving students from across the globe for more than 157 years,” Gerlach said in a statement. “The loss of history, careers, and a community of students and alumni is immense.”

A GoFundMe created in March to raise money to keep the school open has raised just $2,500 of its $20 million goal.

Lincoln College, which had roughly 1,200 students as of summer 2021, held its final graduation ceremony Saturday, and will officially close its doors on Friday, CNN reported.

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