Illinois’ historically Black Lincoln College is permanently closing on Friday after battling financial woes caused by the coronavirus pandemic and a recent ransomware attack.
The institution has served for 157 years, surviving the Great Depression, two world wars, and the 1918 Spanish flu. However, the pandemic caused a significant drop in enrollment, forcing the college to invest heavily in technology to continue students’ education.
Furthermore, a costly ransomware attack blocked Lincoln from accessing its data, closing all its recruitment, retention, and fund-raising campaigns for a lengthy period.
“Lincoln College was a victim of a cyberattack in December 2021 that thwarted admissions activities and hindered access to all institutional data, creating an unclear picture of Fall 2022 enrollment projections,” the school announced on its website.
“Once fully restored in March 2022, the projections displayed significant enrollment shortfalls, requiring a transformational donation or partnership to sustain Lincoln College beyond the current semester,” it added.
Taking Data Hostage
Research and Education Networks Information Sharing and Analysis Center Director Kim Milford said the school’s closure stresses the damage that ransomware attacks can cause higher education.
“I feel really bad for Lincoln College and wish there was some way we could help, but it can be a very expensive proposition when you’re hit by ransomware,” Milford explained.
The Lincoln College Museum plans to stay open even after the college closes but deems the situation a tragedy.
“The loss of history, careers, and a community of students and alumni is immense,” President David Gerlach stated.
Other universities have been affected by ransomware attacks this year, including Kellogg Community College in Michigan, which closed all five of its campuses to investigate and address the problem.