Lincoln University Puts Jennings on The Pike and Looks Forward to the Future

By Gloria Dulan-Wilson 

Hello All:

Monday, November 24 had me doing a happy dance - as the announcement I had been waiting for came across my computer screen:  "Jennings resigns from Lincoln University!"  Then I let out a Lincoln Roar! - a major cheer at the fact that we had been victorious in ridding our beloved Alma Mater of what has to have been one of the worst ersatz presidents ever to cross Lincoln's threshold.

It's been nearly three years since I said, "He's got to go!" to my fellow classmates - who agreed, but had initially hoped that things would get better once he caught the spirit of  Lincoln.  Well not only did that not happen, but his full effect was to destroy the spirit of Lincoln at every turn - from cancelling the time honored Alumni week, to expelling 300 students at the same time, to ignoring then changing the date of the celebration of Lincoln's 160th anniversary, to insulting the Alumni Association every chance he got.



Appeal after appeal was made to the Board of Trustees by the Alumni Association of Lincoln University (AALU), but to no avail.  It appeared that they were solidly behind him, stating that they had contracted with him to balance the budget and to re-organize Lincoln University so that it was more fiscally sound.  According to the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Kimberly Lloyd, Jennings had met the contractual requirements.  But to the mind of the alumni, it was more a matter of the operation being a success, but the patient died.  Jennings was killing Lincoln University by inches and degrees.  

Things had begun to unravel when he was absent from Lincoln's traditional Homecoming events, which took place in October, 2014.  Demands for his dismissal from alumni who had previously been silent on the subject were flying back and forth across the internet.  The one event a sitting president (even an ersatz president) should never miss is Homecoming!

JENNINGS - GONE - Thank Goodness!!!
It had to be  Divine Intervention that a video of Jennings attempting to "counsel" female students on "false rape charges" and the "motives of men" was posted on YouTube, exposing him for the phoney he truly was.  YouTube did for us what no amount of meeting, cajoling, petitioning, summit conferences had been able to do over the past two years.  With a firestorm of controversy now inundating the TV, radio, newspapers; with outraged parents, feminists, and student groups now coming together to give us the back up we needed to bring the issue to a head, the Alumni gathered to sit in on a Board of Trustees Meeting which took place on November 15, saw the meeting so inundated with alumni coming from as far south as Florida, and as far north as New York.  So outraged was the Philadelphia community, State Representative W. Curtis Thomas completely changed his agenda to be present for the meeting.

However, it appeared that instead of accommodating the alumni who had come in genuine concern for their alma mater, and moving the  meeting to a room that would allow all who had traveled to be able to listen, they continued to hold the meeting in a small conference room that only seated 30 alumni  -- with campus police barring entry to the rest of the nearly 100 who waited outside.  Rather than be discouraged, the alumni continued to wait outside and in smaller conference rooms during the entire 5 hours that the board held their business as usual agenda.  They made a canned statement at the beginning of the meeting stating that Jennings had fulfilled his contract, that they saw no problem in his performance - which got a rise of dissent from the audience. 

It was clear they were concerned about their alma mater, and were there to show solidarity with the faculty who had issued a vote of no confidence in Jennings, and the students who had been forbidden the same privilege - in fact students were walking around campus with duct tape on their mouths to show they had been gagged into silence. 

The upshot of the meeting was that the Board of Trustees declined to make a decision at that point, calling it a "personnel matter," with the decision being left to the various chairs.  We would, they said, receive an announcement of their decision "shortly."

STUDENT PROTEST SIGNS -After having been forbidden to render a vote of no confidence in Jennings
 Carol Black Photographer

We left Lincoln University that Saturday afternoon feeling as though we had been ignored and disrespected.  In fact, the 800 pound gorilla in the room at the Philadelphia Chapter of the AALU, which was held on Wednesday, November 19, was how long did we have to wait to end the dragging on with Jennings?  Why was it so obvious to the rest of the world, but not to the Board of Trustees that he was definitely not the right person for Lincoln University?  I somehow felt that our ancestors - Kwame Nkrumah, Nnamde Azikewe, Thurgood Marshall, Langston Hughes, Horace Mann Bond, Gil Scott-Heron and others were definitely not pleased with the way things were going. We had dropped the ball in their eyes.  They would never have allowed this to happen on their watch. 

With Thanksgiving coming up, many turned their minds toward getting ready for the holiday.  I, however, had just been blindsided by the announcement of the death of my friend, Marion Barry, and had been in a quasi funk from Sunday through that Monday.  When Jennings "resignation" appeared  on my computer, it was like a shot of adrenalin!  It was like God giving us all something to be thankful for indeed!!!

I came very close to singing "ding dong the witch is dead..." but refrained from doing so.  With emails and congratulations flying all over the place,  between myself, Bob Ingram, Carol Black, Kenny Poole, Darrell Braxton, Michael Taylor, Joe Reed, Vaughn Thomas and other alumni, we were burning up the internet - rejoicing over a hard fought victory.  Traditional Lincoln Rabble would say that Jennings had been told to "hit the Pike"(referring Baltimore Pike that runs past the campus).

I must give a special shout out to Melissa Harris-Perry - her coverage helped bring to the forefront what we had been trying to say for quite some time; as well as the Philly Tribune.  But I also want to thank Jennings - no matter how much he pretended to be progressive, his negative side continued to creep through - and he finally let it show in such an unmistakable manner, it was impossible to ignore or continue to condone. 

Congratulations to the students of Lincoln University - your show of unity harkens back to the original spirit upon which our school was founded.  Needless to say our Ancestor/lumni are proud of you indeed - you have found much favor in their eyes.

Now on to the hard, but most important part - selecting a new president - one who is both professional, cultural, creative, dedicated to Lincoln, charismatic, honest, ethical, cordial, a  positive asset, and dedicated to the continuation of Lincoln University as a Black school (HBCU), not some watered down version of political expediency.  He or she doesn't have to walk on water - but probably has to come pretty close.  We've had some exemplary presidents in the past, and unfortunately, we've had some duds as well - and now that we know the difference, we are going to be very meticulous in making the next selection.

The AALU has already begun putting together a revamping agenda for the school, since Jennings has eviscerated so many essential programs, gotten rid of competent staff and replaced them with incompetent ones - like the "Interim VP of Academic Excellence" who replaced the original administrator.  Essential repairs to dormitories had been allowed to go begging to such an extent that they are now major renovation projects.   Alumni had been deprived of their time honored gathering that takes place annually during commencement - Alumni Week - which had been a tradition since the 1800's - and is on the top of the list of things to be restored in 2015.  The celebration of Lincoln's 160th Anniversary was never held (my pet peeve) - depriving us of the opportunity to celebrate that magnificent milestone in the fashion it truly deserved.  But one of the first things they mentioned was removing "The" from the Lincoln University title and logo, and going back to being "Lincoln University."  It was a pretentious artificiality that irked the alumni to no end. 

The laundry list of egregious acts against Lincoln on the part of Jennings adds up to systematic sabotage, which, had it been allowed to continue, would have destroyed the school.  With Valerie Harrison serving as interim president, until a permanent candidate can be identified, things are at least beginning to flow back to normalcy.  However, within that context, the AALU has vowed to be integrally involved in all future planning and direction of Lincoln University.  

It's been a hard fought victory, and a major lesson in how important it is to treasure, support and be involved in our Alma Mater - one we'll never forget as we move to Lincoln's next 160 years.


Stay Blessed & 
Gloria Dulan-Wilson LU '67


No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank YOU For Visiting Gloria Dulan-Wilson Eclectic Black People VIP Blog. We Would Like Your Views, Interests And Perspectives. Please Leave A Comment Below.