As a proud graduate of Lincoln University, and one of the first 16 coed on campus, I have to admit that these past two years have been among the most stressful that I have ever experienced, vis a vis my beloved Alma Mater. And I know that I'm not alone in expressing this. Our 160 year old University has, for the first time in recent history, been inflicted with an individual whose very presence has created an atmosphere of negativity and hostility. From the day Robert Jennings set foot on the campus in 2012, to the present day, it's been a constant battle for the traditions, spirit, and quality that Lincoln University stands for.
Ironically, at a recently held so called public board of trustees meeting, the chair read a statement that pretty much said they were satisfied that Jennings had met their contractual requirements and that they had no problem with him.
Really??? If his contract was about dismantling the school, demoralizing the faculty and students, replacing time honored faculty, administrators and staff with questionable "interim" vice presidents, and a reduction in enrollment that takes it back to the mid-sixties level (when Lincoln had 600 males and 20 females, of which I was one), then he has indeed done "fine" job.
It also speaks to whether or not the board is in tune with the needs of the campus or is a cya/face saving mode (CYA stands for cover your ass, for the uninitiated).
I recently received a letter that was sent to the board chair, that I'm posting here, in case there are those who are viewing the reports on the media and think that the Alumni are complacently sitting back while all this fracas transpires. For I can assure you that we are not. Actually, I wanted to set Jennings out on the Pike the first time I met him, and more especially after he made the speech at our Alumni Anniversary dinner where he stated arrogantly: "Everybody agrees with what I'm doing. They think I'm doing a fantastic job."
REALLY???? I guess, in retrospect, if he's talking about the Board of Trustees, maybe he was right. But the jury was still out on the rest of us. Especially after it became known that he was suspending Alumni reunion week, curtailing accommodations for alumni on the campus, and a whole host of other hostile actions towards those of us who had graduated from Lincoln and loved her enough to maintain a sustaining ongoing relationship. Or how about wanting to bull doze the more that 15 land mark buildings on the campus that have been there since the campus' inception in the 1850's to put up a "welcome center." Wonder what would have happened had someone told Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, or Yale that they were going to bulldoze their original buildings - PRECISELY - that was our reaction as well.
The spirits of Langston Hughes, Thurgood Marshall, Kwame Nkrumah, Nnamde Azikewe, Horace Mann Bond, Marvin Wachman and so many of our ancestors must be looking down upon us with shame as we go through dragging out what is really a simple procedure. These men of action knew that the greater good was more important than anything else, and that the future of Lincoln University must be preserved and protected at all costs. Presidents (even ersatz presidents) are hired and can be fired; alumni are forever, and are the legacy of the school to the world.
The posturing and shuffling must end - Jennings must go - NOW.
This, then, is the letter, directed to the attention of Kimberly Lloyd, chair of the Board of Trustees:
Jack, things are not good at Lincoln.....
From: Fire Jennings [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]Sent: Monday, November 17, 2014 10:59 PMTo: email@example.com;firstname.lastname@example.orgSubject: Response to the Board of Trustees
November 17, 2014
Ms. Kimberly A. Lloyd, Chair
Board of Trustees
Dear Ms. Lloyd:
Those of us who work and study at Lincoln University have known for over two years that Robert Jennings is unfit to serve as President of our school. He has created a chaotic environment in the university administration, with turnover rates well above what they should be and numerous unfilled positions or positions filled by “Acting” or “Interim” administrators.
He has driven potential and current students away from Lincoln with his Draconian policies and mismanagement of academic programs. Under his leadership, we have seen steady declines in enrollment that exceed those of other public universities, including HBCUs, in our geographic region. Alumni contributions have dropped, the endowment has been raided, and his fundraising campaign has failed miserably.
Faculty and staff live in fear of his next cutbacks, even as he spends money on questionable projects and fails to provide transparency on the university budget. Programs are consolidated or eliminated without any input from faculty committees. He has hijacked faculty meetings, often taking up more than half of the time with his self-aggrandizing “comments” so that faculty business cannot be conducted. Jennings micromanages decisions at the departmental level, often ignoring the input of those who best know how their programs should be run.
The result is that both the alumni and the faculty voted overwhelmingly that they have “No Confidence” in Jennings’ ability to successfully lead Lincoln University. This was before a video recording of his “Women’s Convocation” speech was made public through YouTube. The video has received more than 31,000 views thus far, but, more importantly, it has been widely covered by news media and generated significant pushback from national commentators.
Most recently, Melissa Harris-Perry, one of the most respected African-American television commentators, read a letter to President Jennings on her MSNBC program on Saturday, November 15. She said, “Well, President Jennings, it is you who created that hostile environment when you blamed women for sexual assault and implied that they regularly lie about rape. What you said was offensive, appalling and wrong.” (http://www.msnbc.com/melissa-harris-perry/mhp-letter-robert-jennings) Harris-Perry stated that Jennings’ words “disgrace the legacy” of Lincoln University.
CNN aired a panel discussion on Nov. 12 led by another prominent African-American journalist, Don Lemon, to discuss President Jennings’ remarks. One panelist called his comments about women lying about rape “absurd.” But the strongest criticism came from Gloria Allred, perhaps the most prominent attorney in the nation representing women in discrimination cases. Allred said about Jennings’ remarks, “It creates a hostile environment on that campus for women who are raped or are victims of sexual assault who are thinking about coming forward.” She added that “I think that the Office of Civil Rights and the Department of Education would be very upset to hear the President’s statements, and, in fact, any victim could use that in a potential lawsuit against the college for a violation of Title IX.” (http://www.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/us/2014/11/12/ctn-panel-college-president-explains-why-some-women-lie-about-rape.cnn.html)
The story and the negative reaction to the convocation remarks were published in hundreds of newspapers nationwide, and were included in a Washington Post story about a date rape at Brown University as a means of showing the lack of response to sexual assaults on some college campuses. Other articles and opinion pieces appeared on highly-viewed web sites such as HuffingtonPost.com, Salon.com, andTalkingPointsMemo.com, and the on-line sites of Cosmopolitan andEssence magazines.
These are not the first comments by President Jennings that demonstrate a lack of sensitivity to our faculty, staff, and students, they are just the ones that were recorded and posted on line. He has become a liability to Lincoln, and threatens to damage any chance for a rebound in enrollment, faculty and administrative stability, and alumni support at our beloved university.
That is why so many of us are disappointed in the stamp of approval given to Jennings by you and the Board of
Trustees at the meeting on Saturday, Nov. 15. Although there was an announcement that a review of President Jennings’ tenure here will be conducted by the Board, there were no specifics as to who would conduct the review, how it would be conducted, when the results would be announced, and what actions might result from such a review, if any.
The students, faculty, and alumni of Lincoln University have all spoken, and now the local and national media affirm our decisions. Robert Jennings is damaging our school, and action needs to be taken by the Board of Trustees and you to swiftly remove him before the damage becomes irreversible.
MY RESPONSE TO THE LETTER;
Hey Dick, John and the rest of the groupii!
This is wonderfully written, succinct, to the point, and in the spirit of Lincoln Alumni - We had an alumni association meeting last night (Wednesday) in Philadelphia questioning who was really going to do the review, when was it going to be complete, when were we going to be notified of the results; and whether or not we would have input in the selection of the next president. Bob Ingram, national AALU president and I voiced concerns as to whether there were some underlying motives that would prevent the quick dispensation of Jennings' dismissal - i.e. the fact that there is some sort of proposed development of the 432 acres upon which our campus sits - it's ironic that more than one of the board members and their supporters also happen to be RE developers. Carol Black recently wrote a letter to the organization that was looking to do some development to hold off until the issue with Jennings could be settled, given the fact that he had received votes of no confidence from both the Alumni and Faculty. Thus far we've heard nothing back from them. We definitely don't want him to be instrumental in negotiating anything that would tie up the schools resources -
Thanks for sharing it with me
STAY BLESSED &
Gloria Dulan-Wilson LU '67
HAIL! HAIL! LINCOLN!!