TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
Lincoln University President Brenda A. Allen has been named one of the 10 most dominant historically Black college leaders for 2021 by the HBCU Campaign Fund, a national nonprofit organization that has been advocating for students of higher education since 2012.
“When I first heard of the recognition, I was completely shocked,” Allen said. “This is the first time I received an honor like this as a president of a university and it means a lot to me because I was recognized by my peers.”
A native of Newark, New Jersey, Allen was appointed president of Lincoln in 2017. She has also been named one of The Philadelphia Tribune’s most influential African Americans.
She was recognized along with the presidents of Howard, Morgan State, Livingstone, Tennessee State, Langston, Kentucky State, Mississippi Valley State universities and St. Philip’s and Morris colleges.
“Dr. Allen has provided numerous years of strategic vision, exceptional leadership, tireless devotion and outstanding commitment to the Lincoln University community as its 14th president,” said founder and CEO of the HBCU Campaign Fund Demetrius Johnson Jr. in a statement. “We’re proud to recognize Dr. Allen with such a prestigious honor.”
Allen’s national recognition is just the latest good news coming out of Lincoln. Last month, Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving along with his KAI Family Foundation covered tuition expenses for nine graduating seniors.
Lincoln, a 2,200-student university in Chester County, was also one of several hundred organizations to receive a large gift from author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. The university received $20 million, the largest gift from a single donor in Lincoln’s 167-year history.
“We feel amazingly blessed,” Allen said. “The recognitions are just confirmation to myself and my team on the work that we’ve been doing. To receive the monetary gifts to support our work and our students is just a wonderful thing.”
Allen said Scott’s monetary gift will be used for strategic investments to grow the university, extend its intellectual capital to help solve some of the global community’s most pressing problems, and enhance sustainability for generations to come.
“We want to invest in academic quality ... making sure that my current faculty have the resources they need to stay current in their teaching and in their research,” Allen said. “We’re going to use some of the money to recruit new faculty to campus.
“We also want to show that our students have the opportunity to engage in some important experiential learning programs like study abroad, internships and undergraduate research.
“Some of the money will also be allocated to our financial aid program,” she added. “We want to be able to provide cash grants to students to help cover some of their financial burden to stay in school.”
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Lincoln students will start their spring semester remotely on Jan. 25 and can officially return to campus March 1.
Lincoln will have safety protocols in place and everyone will be tested prior to moving in.
Students are required to quarantine until they get their test results. Administrators will also put protocols in place for traveling on and off campus.
Allen said that due to the increase in cases some adjustments may need to be made.
“With courses starting remotely for everyone in a couple weeks, it gives us about a month to watch what’s happening and to make any adjustments as the climate evolves,” Allen said.
Despite the pandemic, Lincoln administrators are continuing with their strategic planning, which includes investing in technology and infrastructure.
“Many capital projects are designed to create the living learning spaces that can really help us to push this liberal arts education,” Allen said. “One of the issues for students in the school is really having the guidance that they need to be able to be good consumers of all the opportunities that are available there.
“So we’re investing in staff in areas that support students to ensure that they know and are participating in the things that can really build their skill sets, as well as invested in our faculty and staff,” she added. “We can’t offer a great education and not make sure that those who are responsible for delivering that are at the top of their game as well.”
Allen said that what she ultimately wants students to take away from their experience at Lincoln is the tagline “Learn. Liberate. Lead.”
“As students come to campus they learn, digest and consume as much knowledge as possible,” Allen said. “The liberate piece is about them being able to use that knowledge to create their own individual critical thinking skills.
“The lead part is about students taking their education, critical thinking and problem-solving skills and making a real contribution to the community and society at large,” she added. “We think we can create that sort of a graduate by investing and the way we do education on campus.”