Published on: May 13, 2022
Lincoln College, a predominately black college based in Illinois, is closing its doors after 157 years. The institution cited the challenges it faced throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, along with the aftermath of a ransomware attack, as reasons for closing.
The pandemic forced Lincoln College to make large investments in technology and safety measures, while students decided to postpone their education or take a leave of absence at the same time. This financial burden came at a time when the college’s fundraising activities were already significantly impacted.
In December, Lincoln College fell victim to a ransomware attack that “thwarted admissions activities and hindered access to all institutional data, creating an unclear picture of fall 2022 enrollment projections.”
According to the college’s press release, the ransomware attack encrypted important data. This means that “all systems required for recruitment, retention, and fundraising efforts were inoperable.”
Last month, Lincoln College President David Gerlach told EdScoop that this ransomware attack prevented admissions applications from being entered into IT systems, and “you can’t recruit students.”
While Lincoln College decided to pay a ransom to the attackers, the college’s activities were still significantly disrupted. According to Gerlach, Lincoln College’s ransom payment was much lower than the initial $100,000 demand.
Systems were finally restored in March but left the college mortally wounded.
“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,” Lincoln College said in the statement.
Efforts to strengthen Lincoln College’s finances have failed to generate the large amount of money required to keep the college open. These efforts included a GoFundMe campaign seeking $20 million, the selling of college assets, and staffing changes.
Gerlach said that “the loss of history, careers, and a community of students and alumni is immense.”