After 157 years, Lincoln College is closing at the end of the spring semester.  The college has notified the Illinois Board of Higher Education and Higher Learning Commission of permanent closure, effective May 13.

The private liberal arts college based in Lincoln, Illinois, has a current enrollment of 888 students, plus an extension site in Normal that provides adults with accelerated bachelor’s degree programs.

“Lincoln College has been serving students from across the globe for more than 157 years,” said David Gerlach, president of Lincoln College, in a written statement released March 30. “The loss of history, careers, and a community of students and alumni is immense.”

While the college had record-breaking student enrollment for the fall 2019 semester, the COVID-19 pandemic “dramatically impacted recruitment and fundraising efforts, sporting events, and all campus life activities.” The school was required to make additional investments in technology and campus safety measures, while at the same time dealing with a significant drop in enrollment as student chose to postpone college or take a leave of absence during the pandemic.

The press release announcing the closure also cited a cyberattack that occurred 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.”

Officials said that although the institution has tried to strengthen its financial position through fundraising campaigns, selling assets, consolidating employee positions and exploring alternatives for the leased building in Normal, it has not created long-term viability for the college. The statement noted that it would require “a transformational donation or partnership to sustain Lincoln College beyond the current semester.”

Academic support and transitional services will be available to students through the remainder of the semester and the college has posted FAQ documents on its website addressing the closure process.

“Though we are experiencing undeniable grief and sadness, we find comfort in knowing Lincoln College has served generations of alumni who have undoubtedly impacted our world,” said Gerlach.