The vice chairman of the Lincoln University Board of Trustees is taking over the duties of the university president until the board selects an interim president, the board announced Wednesday.
Dimitrius Hutcherson takes on the supervisory responsibilities immediately, the board said in an update sent to Lincoln’s students, faculty, staff and alumni Wednesday.
The board will hold a special follow-up meeting on July 23 to discuss the interim president.
The board will prioritize identifying “leadership with executive experience in higher education, business, finance, and entrepreneurship coupled with skills uniquely suited to execute an effective response to the current global pandemic,” the update said.
The board is consulting with the Registry for College and University Presidents, a recruitment firm for interim senior academic leadership, to accelerate the selection process.
The board also said it will properly seat the Commonwealth Trustees in accordance with its standing procedures at its regular meeting scheduled for Sept. 19.
The Commonwealth Trustees, some of whom were appointed in January, were not allowed to participate in the July 10 board meeting, where the board voted not to renew the contract of university president Brenda Allen. The board said these members were not properly seated in April, when they normally would have been, because the board canceled its meeting due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Of the 21 board members whose votes were counted, 52% voted against renewing Allen’s contract and 48% voted in favor.
The board announced the results of the vote after a nearly four-hour executive session.
Some alumni have questioned the legality of the board voting in the executive session, and without the Commonwealth Trustees. State Attorney General Josh Shapiro told the Tribune this week that he was concerned about the actions the board took, and his office was “assessing our next step.”
The board has asked Allen to vacate the president's residence by July 31. The letter with the request was signed by Hutcherson.
Hutcherson declined to comment on Allen's contract, the questions around it or the interim presidency, saying he couldn't because it's a personnel matter.
Allen’s contract expired on June 30, but her attorney has said she intends to continue to perform her duties as university president.
The board of trustees appointed Allen, a 1981 Lincoln graduate, the university’s 14th president in July 2017.
During Allen’s term, first-year student retention rates and four-year graduation rates improved, as did the university’s standing in national rankings. She successfully led efforts to have the university’s accreditation reaffirmed in 2019.
Allen also worked to preserve historic buildings on campus.
A group of students, faculty and other staff plan to hold a rally and march in support of Allen on Saturday on campus.