HARRISBURG—Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced today that the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against Lincoln University’s Board of Trustees for allegedly violating Pennsylvania’s Lincoln University—Commonwealth and Sunshine Acts in the Board’s procedures and refusal to seat members during their July, 10 meeting that included a vote on the contract of University President Brenda Allen.
“My office has no position on who serves as President of Lincoln University, but we will take action to ensure the board follows the law,” said Attorney General Shapiro. “Lincoln is a jewel of our Commonwealth’s heritage, and students, alumni, faculty and staff of the school that taught Langston Hughes and Thurgood Marshall must have confidence that their leadership complied with state law.”
Allen was appointed President of Lincoln University, the nation’s first degree-granting Historically Black College and University (HBCU), in 2017.
The complaint alleges that on July 10, 2020, a special meeting was held to discuss new leadership among the Board of Trustees. The university’s bylaws require that a special meeting has 10 days prior notice, and that topics not included in the notice cannot be discussed at the meeting. The July 10 meeting violated this bylaw, with inadequate prior notice given about the meeting, and the meeting notice only discussing “new leadership” and not the removal of the university president.
During the meeting, five Commonwealth Trustees had their Zoom microphones forcibly muted by the host, not allowing them to participate. The same Trustees were not included in the initial roll-call of the meeting; they were denied participation in the closed, executive-only portion of the meeting; they were also all denied the ability to cast a vote during the meeting. The remaining Trustees voted on the renewal of the University contract, which included Allen’s employment as university president. The vote was tied 11 to 11 and the renewal was considered to have failed. A new motion was then made and passed to appoint a new interim president.
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