Lincoln College Closure Impacts Millikin

April 5, 2022

Lincoln College, located in Lincoln, Illinois, announced it will be permanently closing its doors at the end of the spring term on May 13, 2022. The college survived historically challenging times before the pandemic, but a cyber attack in December 2021 coupled with the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic left the college with grim odds. 

The university is in the middle of developing a teach-out plan for any of its current students who planned to attend the college in the Fall of 2022. This plan will name other colleges and universities that Lincoln’s current students can attend after the closure. At this time, only two colleges in central Illinois are designed as teach-out universities. 

Millikin expects to see a handful of students from Lincoln College transfer to Millikin to continue their education, though the exact numbers are unknown at this time.

An obstacle Millikin is eyeing is the athletic differences presented at Millikin and Lincoln. 

“[ Lincoln is] NAIA and we’re in the NCAA Division three,” Millikin University President Jim Reynolds said. “The big difference is that they can offer athletic scholarships and we can’t, and so we’ll have to figure out, you know, if there are students that are also student-athletes that want to participate, how do we help them along with that because we can’t offer them an athletic scholarship.”

Reynolds says he is saddened by Lincoln’s closure, and he is also aware of the warning this sends to the institution of higher education. 

“We have to be able to see what’s going on and respond appropriately. Things have changed really dramatically, even in the last 10 years for higher education,” Reynolds said.

Lincoln College was already struggling before the cyber attack, but the December 2021 cyber attack left the college’s fundraising and admissions departments inoperational until the college paid the attackers’ ransom.

 Since colleges can never be completely immune to a cyber attack, Millikin students are asked to exercise caution while on the internet and when using their Millikin emails. 

“If [an email isnt from] a known party, or people that you have, on your safe list, you know, never click through links or things like that,” Reynolds said. 

While it is always sad to see a college shut its doors for the last time, Lincoln College’s closure has historical significance for Millikin. 

When James Millikin, founder of Millikin University, decided he wanted to start a college in Decatur, Illinois, he had to receive a charter, or an accreditation issued by the state.

“At that time, institutions of higher learning had to be chartered by states,” Reynolds said. “There was no accrediting body, and so the state played a role in chartering institutions.” 

Due to the limited amount of charters available, James Millikin partnered with Lincoln College to share Lincoln College’s charter. Under this arrangement, Millikin University was run as the Decatur College and Industrial School. 

In 1901, the amended charter created a Board of Trustees that maintained both campuses for James Millikin University. Each campus had its own local Board of Managers. The colleges split in the 1950s. 

“We were a part of Lincoln College,” Reynolds said. “They were a part of us up until the 1950s when we went our separate ways, but had it not been for Lincoln College and a willingness to share their charter, I don’t know that Millikin would exist as it’s formed today.” 

While the universities have run separately for over 60 years, the history between Millikin and Lincoln College remains significant. 

“It’s more difficult because that’s, you know, a family member,” Reynolds said. “We’re losing a family member because they’re closing.” 

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