A college in Illinois announced that it is closing after more than 100 years of operation after setbacks associated with the coronavirus pandemic and a ransomware attack.

Lincoln College, a predominantly black college established in 1865 that has endured such events as a campus fire and the Great Depression, said that it would be permanently closing its doors on Friday, according to an announcement on the school's website.

"Lincoln College has survived many difficult and challenging times — the economic crisis of 1887, a major campus fire in 1912, the Spanish flu of 1918, the Great Depression, World War II, the 2008 global financial crisis, and more, but this is different," the college said in its announcement. "Lincoln College needs help to survive."


The college boasted of its "record-breaking student enrollment" for the fall 2019 semester before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. During the health crisis, the "recruitment and fundraising efforts" of the college, along with sporting events and campus activities, were affected, the college said.

"The economic burdens initiated by the pandemic required large investments in technology and campus safety measures, as well as a significant drop in enrollment with students choosing to postpone college or take a leave of absence, which impacted the institution's financial position," Lincoln College said.

Lincoln College President David Gerlach said the institution had roughly 630 full-time students in the fall of 2020 and the fall of 2021, according to WGLT. He noted that he hoped there would soon be a "turn around" at that stage, but then a cyberattack in December 2021 delivered a fatal blow.

The cyberattack left "all systems required for recruitment, retention, and fundraising efforts" inoperable, according to the college's statement.

"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," the college said.


As many educational institutions across the United States switched to remote learning during the pandemic, cybercriminals struck. Roughly 62 school districts and 26 college campuses were hit by ransomware attacks in 2021, said Emsisoft, a cybersecurity firm, according to CNN.

"Ransomware is a multi-million-dollar problem for the education sector, but its impact is more than financial," Brett Callow, a threat analyst with Emsisoft, told the outlet. "Attacks also disrupt kids' educations and cause personal information relating to both students and teachers to leak online."