Lincoln College to Close Following Ransomware Attack
The Institution Will Suspend All Academic Activities at the Conclusion of the Spring Semester.
Lincoln College has a 19th-century history. Prior to Lincoln, Illinois, several locations were considered for the institution, but in December 1864, Lincoln was selected.
The Lincoln campus has a student body of over 1,000 people. Students come from over 25 different states in the United States, as well as from numerous other countries. Australia, China, England, France, Japan, Norway, and Sweden are among the nations represented on the list. An estimated 10 percent of students come from metropolitan regions, 30 percent come from rural areas, and 60 percent come from suburban areas.
Lincoln College has announced that it will shut its doors later this month, 157 years after its establishment and following a devastating financial impact from the COVID-19 outbreak and a recent ransomware assault.
With the institution having weathered a number of tragedies, including a devastating fire in 1912, the Spanish influenza epidemic, the Great Depression, World Wars I and II, and the global financial crisis of 2008, this choice was made much more difficult.
Nevertheless, a ransomware attack in December was the tipping point, and the decision to close the facility on May 13, 2022, was, unfortunately, one that couldn’t be avoided. A decryption key was delivered after money was paid, however not enough data was recovered.
As a result of this impending permanent closure, the institution has informed the Illinois Department of Higher Education as well as the Higher Learning Commission, and its Board of Trustees has already resolved to suspend all academic activities at the conclusion of the spring semester.
This Illinois liberal-arts college is one of the few rural American colleges that has been designated by the Department of Education as mostly a Black university.
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. Lincoln College needs help to survive.
The institution experienced record-breaking student enrollment in Fall 2019, with residence halls at maximum capacity. 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.
Furthermore, Lincoln 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.
The institution has worked tirelessly to strengthen its financial position through fundraising campaigns, selling assets, consolidating employee positions, and exploring alternatives for the leased building in Normal. Unfortunately, these efforts did not create long-term viability for Lincoln College in the face of the pandemic.
Lincoln College encourages individuals to review the FAQ documents on the Lincoln College website for more information regarding the closure process. Academic support and transitional services will be available to students through the remainder of the semester.
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