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Lincoln University reappoints president who had been ousted two months earlier

The decision ends months of uncertainty over whether the popular administrator would be retained.

Lincoln University first inducted Dr. Brenda Allen as its 14th president in a ceremony in October 2017.
Lincoln University first inducted Dr. Brenda Allen as its 14th president in a ceremony in October 2017.Read moreRobert O. Williams

Lincoln University’s president was approved for a new five-year term by the school’s board Saturday, concluding a months-long drama.

The decision is a striking reversal from July, when the university’s board of trustees voted against renewing a contract for Brenda Allen, who has served as the historically Black college’s president since 2017. That vote was then challenged by lawsuits from Allen’s lawyer, Gov. Tom Wolf, and Attorney General Josh Shapiro. They claimed the board violated the state Sunshine Law and its bylaws by holding a private vote, which they also said excluded five state-appointed trustees.

» READ MORE: Lincoln U. board unanimously authorizes negotiations on a new contract for ousted president

“After reflecting on the many discussions with President Allen, board members, students, alumni, employees, and community members that have occurred this summer about Lincoln’s future, I am more hopeful than ever that the next five years will take this institution to new heights,” said Theresa R. Braswell, the board’s chair.

In a statement released by the university, Braswell declared the board eager to work with Allen, whose contract expired June 30.

Allen, a 1981 Lincoln graduate, has served as provost at Winston-Salem State University and worked at two Ivy League universities.

She has proven popular with Lincoln’s students, faculty, and alumni, and has been credited with improving the university’s reputation, alumni donations, student retention, and ensuring the school’s reaccreditation. More than 14,000 signed an online petition supporting Allen when they learned the board announced it would not renew her contract.

“Never before in our history have we ever had a president that has been supported by everybody — the alums, the students, parents, the faculty,” former Lincoln trustee Rosalie Hornbuckle told The Inquirer in July.

» READ MORE: Lincoln University might keep its ousted president in the job after all

Within weeks, the legal action this summer prompted a Chester County judge to order the university — which has board representatives for the governor and attorney general because it is a state-related school — to reinstate Allen and hold another vote on whether to renew her contract.

Lincoln has struggled for a decade with enrollment and finances, with a rosier outlook emerging in recent years. State funding has stabilized and the enrollment base has grown. The school had 2,040 undergraduates and 200 graduate students last year.

“I am confident that the administration and board are more aligned in our vision for the future because of discussions during the past three months,” said Allen in the statement issued by the school Saturday. “By working together with the board, we will lead this institution through this unprecedented time and emerge more resilient and ready for the next 167 years.”