Lincoln University president Brenda A. Allen has been named one of the 10 most dominant historically black college leaders for 2021 by a national nonprofit organization that advocates for the schools.
The accolade follows a tumultuous year for Lincoln, which faced the effects of the coronavirus like other universities, but also weathered an internal battle over Allen’s leadership.
“It just helps to reinforce my belief that I must be doing a good job and it is recognized by my peers, which is really very important,” said Allen, who received a new five-year contract in September. “It signals to me to continue to do my best for Lincoln University.”
Allen received the honor from the HBCU Campaign Fund, which was formed in 2012. Also recognized were the presidents of Howard, Morgan State, Livingstone, Tennessee State, Langston, Kentucky State, and Mississippi Valley State Universities and St. Philip’s and Morris Colleges. In October, the Philadelphia Tribune named Allen one of Philadelphia’s most influential leaders. And last month, Lincoln, a 2,100-student university in Chester County, was one of several hundred organizations to receive a large gift from MacKenzie Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. The university got $20 million.
“It was just amazing,” Allen said.
The good news meant a lot after the events earlier in the year. In July, trustees voted in private against seeking a new contract with Allen, which led her lawyer, Gov. Tom Wolf, and Attorney General Josh Shapiro to file lawsuits, claiming the board had violated the state’s Sunshine Law and its own bylaws by voting in private. Allen had led the school for three years at that point, earning widespread support among faculty, students, and alumni. More than 14,000 people signed an online petition backing her. The board ultimately held another vote in public and agreed to negotiate a new contract.
Allen said she was heartened that those who selected her for the award looked beyond the earlier turmoil with trustees and at the work the university was doing.
“It just speaks volumes for Lincoln and our team,” she said.
The campaign fund recognizes presidents for their prominent and influential leadership and ability to effectively move institutions forward.