Brenda A. Allen will get another chance to remain at the helm of Lincoln University.
Lincoln agreed Tuesday to hold a board of trustees meeting by July 31, during which another vote on renewing Allen’s contract is expected, according to Allen’s lawyer and a spokesperson for Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. This time, five state-appointed trustees barred from participating in the earlier vote on her contract this month will be allowed to vote, Allen’s lawyer and Shapiro’s spokesperson said.
“We’ve received assurances that that is going to happen,” said Riley H. Ross III, Allen’s lawyer.
The about-face came after Allen sued Lincoln’s board of trustees, and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Shapiro followed with their own lawsuit. Both suits allege that Lincoln violated the state’s Sunshine Act and the university’s own bylaws by conducting a vote in private this month on whether to retain Allen.
Ross said he requested a stay for the lawsuit he filed on Allen’s behalf, given that the matter may resolve itself. A Chester County Court judge granted a stay through July 31.
That was the outcome of a telephone conference Tuesday with lawyers before Chester County Judge William Mahon. Thomas Collins, a lawyer for Lincoln, who Ross said also participated in the call, did not immediately return a request for comment. A university spokesperson also did not respond to a request for comment. The board has not commented on why it didn’t renew Allen’s contract.
“Today’s order to stay the Lincoln University decision until a proper vote is conducted with all members of the board seated is a good part of what my office has been fighting for,” Shapiro said. “Lincoln is a jewel of our commonwealth’s heritage and the students, alumni, faculty and staff deserve a board that makes decision in accordance with state law.”
Controversy erupted at Lincoln earlier this month as rumors circulated that the board planned to not retain Allen, who has led the school for three years, earning widespread support among faculty, students, and alumni. More than 14,000 people signed an online petition backing Allen, whose contract ran out June 30. Allen, a 1981 Lincoln graduate, sued the board last week, saying members illegally voted to end her tenure. Allen, her supporters say, has improved student retention and alumni giving.
In their lawsuit, Wolf and Shapiro asked Commonwealth Court to declare the July 10 vote on Allen invalid. Lincoln, a historically Black university in Chester County, is one of four state-related institutions on which the governor serves as an ex officio board member.