Lincoln College is a private college in Lincoln, Illinois, United States, declared that it will be closing its doors because of a cascade of problems brought on by a recent cyberattack. It has been serving students from across the globe for more than 157 years.
According to the announcement published on the college website, “Lincoln College was a victim of a cyberattack in December 2021 that let down admissions activities and hindered access to all institutional data, creating an unclear picture of fall 2022 enrolment projections.”
The institution went through record-breaking student enrolment in fall 2019, with residence halls at maximum capacity.
Also, the coronavirus pandemic radically impacted recruitment and fundraising efforts, sporting events, and all campus life activities say the institution. Due to a decline in enrolment, the college was not able to sustain itself past the semester.
Lincoln College mentions that “The financial crisis initiated by the pandemic involved large investments in technology and campus safety measures, as well as a significant drop in enrolment with students choosing to postpone college or take a leave of absence, which impacted the institution’s financial position”.
“The loss of history, careers and a community of students and alumni is immense”. — David Gerlach, president of Lincoln College.
Cyber Attack Hit College
The cyberattack, slowed down admissions and fundraising activities during this period when the college was already struggling.
“All systems required for recruitment, retention, and fundraising efforts were inoperable. Fortunately, no personal identifying information was exposed. Once fully restored in March 2022, the projections displayed significant enrolment shortfalls, requiring a transformational donation or partnership to sustain Lincoln College beyond the current semester.”
Fund Raising Activities of the Institution
The institution worked hard to strengthen its financial position through fundraising campaigns, selling assets, consolidating employee positions, and exploring alternatives for the leased building in Normal.
A GoFundMe was recently launched, with the hopes of raising $20 million. However, the page had only earned 19 donations, totaling $1,252.
“You can’t get your admissions applications into the system, you can’t recruit students,” Lincoln’s president, David Gerlach, claiming that the attack put admissions activities “out of operation for a month and a half”.
Therefore, all these efforts did not create long-term possibilities for Lincoln College in the face of the pandemic.
Schools and Colleges are natural targets for attacks, as they store large amounts of personal, academic, and financial information and institutions have a track record of low IT budgets and poor security practices, which can make them an easy victims.
Finally, Lincoln College promises that the Illinois State Board of Education will take over student transcripts and records for future needs. They ensure academic support and transitional services will be available to students through the remainder of the semester.