Lincoln University president resigns post

Robert Jennings

The Lincoln University President Robert Jennings announced his resignation Monday, days after the university’s board of trustees ordered an internal review of remarks he made at an all-women’s convocation in September.

Valerie Harrison has been named acting president for the historically Black university, said Kimberly Lloyd, chair of the university’s board of trustees. It is located 45 minutes southwest of Philadelphia, in rural southern Chester County.

Harrison’s experience in higher education spans more than 15 years, including vice president for legal affairs and general counsel at Arcadia University, recognized for its leadership in international education. She has a master’s degree in liberal arts from Temple University and is completing course work for a Ph.D. there, as well. She has also advised Temple University on legal matters since earning her law degree from the Villanova University School of Law.

A search for a permanent successor is now under way, officials said.

During Jennings’ tenure, The Lincoln University launched its first fund-raising campaign for undergraduate scholarship funding amid shrinking enrollment at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU), as some grant programs and other forms of financial aid continues to decline. He served as an evaluator for the U.S. Department of Education and chair of the NAACP Education Legal Advisory Board.

Earlier this month, the board of trustees ordered a review of remarks Jennings made two months ago after meeting in executive session.

He received backlash last spring when he broke an established tradition by scheduling commencement exercises on the weekday. When interviewed about the new policy, Jennings told the Tribune the decision brought thousands of dollars in savings by avoiding weekend overtime rates. The university avoids the increased cost of paying the shift differential to union employees who work weekend hours, and hiring cleanup crews to set up and remove chairs, he said

Robert Archie Jr., a member of the board of trustees, has expressed support for Jennings in the face of grumblings, describing them as a small number of alumni who wanted to see the commencement tradition continued.

“It’s a very small core of alumni,” Archie told the Tribune in a recent phone interview. “Those are people who don’t get the message that this is a business, and it has to be run as a business.”

As the country’s first degree-granting HBCU, The Lincoln has educated graduates who have achieved prominence, from the first Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and poet Langston Hughes to the first presidents of Ghana and Nigeria, and Lillian Fishburne, the first Black woman promoted to rear admiral in the U.S. Navy.

In announcing the resignation, Lloyd asked for support from the university community as The Lincoln’s leadership continues its work on the shared mission of educating future leaders.

“The future is bright,” Lloyd said in the closing paragraph of her letter.

(1) comment


Whether it was a forced resignation or not, Robert Jennings did the right thing by resigning. As a shy freshman in college, I myself was almost a victim of college rape. Had it not been for the roommate coming back to the dorm unexpectedly and sensing the tension, my fear and me crying I would had been one of those 'irresponsible' victims crying rape statistics. The roommate insisted to 'James' to allow me to leave AND he then took it upon himself to walking me back safely to my dorm..Yes I went to the 'James' room willingly to LOOK AT A MOVIE, ..Yes I wore shorts, it was the end of summer and 90plus degrees, yes I was attracted to 'James' even flattered that he an upper-classman had notices me..and yes I kissed him back..but I DID NOT want to have a sexual relationship with him..I applaud the parents of the roommate who listen to me crying and blaming myself as we walked back to my room. He would not allow me to own that blame and placed it where it belonged, on 'James'. But he did warn me to be careful and not so easily trusting.... When I listen to the clippings of Robert Jennings speech, my stomach cringed and I wanted to cry for those female students who weren't as lucky as myself... Like many men and some women, if the victim is not beaten by some stranger on the street, then they believe that more than likely it wasn't rape and that the so-called victim is either lying for revengeful reasons or she did something to lead the assaulter on. For the sake of college rape victims, Universities cannot tolerate a President who doesn't fully and GENUINELY grasp that untruth.

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