OXFORD, Pa. -- Lincoln University trustees were hopeful that the announcement of their selection of a new president last month would mark a new beginning for the storied historically Black institution- and put an end to its highly publicized recent troubles.
But it was not to be.
In the days following the board's selection of Dr. Ivory Nelson, the current president of Central Washington State, to head Lincoln, some faculty members at the southeastern Pennsylvania college publicly blasted the selection process, saying it was marred by infighting which could set the stage for future administrative instability.
Nelson was picked to replace Dr. Niara Sudarkasa, who resigned from Lincoln last year after a state audit uncovered financial mismanagement. Also last year, the school's attorney and its chief financial officer resigned after it was alleged in an in-house audit that the pair may have been involved in potential financial conflicts of interest (see Black Issues, Oct. 1,1998).
An unsigned letter issued by some faculty and released to the press, stated the faculty was "disturbed and concerned by the events associated with the current presidential search."
The selection method, the letter said, "demonstrated a breakdown of collegial process and respect for the norm in higher education. The board ... is badly divided and confused over who should lead Lincoln University into the 21st Century."
"We have nothing against the man," says Dr. Abdulalim Shabazz, chairman of the mathematics and computer science department. "The problem is the way the board search committee recommended him, and the small group of people who made the selection. We are upset with the way it was carried out."
Shabazz says the selection process was less than encouraging because only 17 of the board's 39 members were present for the vote. The final tally was 943 in favor of Nelson, with one abstention.
Adrienne Rhone, chairwoman of the trustees and head of Lincoln's presidential search committee, says she received three letters between April and June, each signed by various faculty members, that were critical of the selection process.
Rhone says the board established a 13-member committee last October and winnowed down 60 candidates to a final three. She stressed that the process "was not rushed."
"This process was not rushed," she says. "It started on Oct. 3rd and took eight months. …