Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Lincoln University, Barnes Foundation Settle Differences: Compromise Would Allow Relocation of Art Collection; Governor Promises Lincoln Millions

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Lincoln University, Barnes Foundation Settle Differences: Compromise Would Allow Relocation of Art Collection; Governor Promises Lincoln Millions

Article excerpt

PHILADELPHIA

"We're all on our knees with our hands clasped in prayer," said Kimberly Camp, executive director of the Barnes Foundation, on the eve of a historic vote by the Lincoln University board of trustees that would determine her institution's future.

Camp's prayers and those of the Barnes' supporters were answered when the Lincoln trustees voted overwhelmingly to accept a compromise that would allow the Barnes to change the makeup of its governance board late last month. Before the Barnes' founder Dr. Albert C. Barnes died in 1951, he granted the historically Black institution in rural Chester County the right to nominate four of his board's five trustees (see Black Issues, July 17). Now Lincoln will nominate five of an expanded 15-member board of trustees.

The vote removes the last hurdle in the Barnes' fight to partner with the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Annenberg and Lenfest foundations in moving its storied art collection--with a value estimated between $6 billion and $25 billion--from its current home in Lower Merion Township to a site in the city of Philadelphia.

"This is great news, and another important step in the extraordinary partnership we are forging with Lincoln University," said Dr. Bernard C. Watson, president of the Barnes Foundation's board of trustees, in a statement following the vote.

"Today's agreement ensures a much brighter and more secure future for the Barnes. It will enhance the foundation's governance and help us finally overcome the financial pressures that have threatened bankruptcy and imperiled our educational mission. And it paves the way for moving the gallery to a location where the public will have much better access to this exceptional treasure."

The vote, held in the Lincoln student union before a concerned audience of faculty, staff, alumni, government officials, press and the occasional protester, came alter an impassioned appeal by Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell stressing the importance of a "yes" vote.

Rendell noted that Lincoln could benefit financially by approving the governance agreement reached between Barnes' trustees and he Lincoln executive committee only a week before. Regardless of how Lincoln voted, Rendell said he would seek $50 million from he state legislature to fund construction of a new science and technology building and an international cultural center.

The amount was in addition to the $30 million over three years that Rendell pledged in a Sept. …

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