Unfortunately, a fight between Lincoln University and its foundation over control of funding has boiled over into the courts.
The sooner the two can make amends and put this behind them, the better. Until that happens, we can’t imagine the university will have the same level of support — financially and otherwise — from its alumni and other friends.
Why would anyone donate, knowing their money will be the subject of a legal tug-of-war?
The foundation, since 1970, has existed to solicit donations for the school, then to disperse the money in ways to benefit the university and its students, including through scholarships.
The university helps the foundation, and the foundation pays a portion of what it makes in donations back to the university for that administrative support.
The two entities have a written agreement, last amended in 2015.
Now, a lawsuit by the foundation says the university wrongly took control of more than $667,000 from the foundation, as well as keeping files the foundation says it owns.
The university says the foundation is part of the university, and the university is the ultimate owner of all paperwork, donor information and money.
The problem started, the suit says, after LU President Jerald Jones Woolfolk took office last June and, shortly later, tried to change the agreement between LU and its foundation. The suit said Woolfolk wanted to transfer funds from the foundation to the university.
When the foundation balked, the university’s Board of Curators terminated the agreement between the university and foundation, effective Dec. 31, 2018.
Woolfolk proposed a new agreement in which the foundation would give her control of half of the foundation’s funds. When the foundation didn’t agree, LU told the foundation it would stop providing administrative services to the foundation, the suit reported.
The Civil War soldiers who founded LU probably would be very disappointed and discouraged by these events.
Their president, Abraham Lincoln, tried unsuccessfully to prevent the war in which they fought. Lincoln knew how much it would tear our nation apart.
Although President Lincoln wasn’t able to head off the Civil War, his warning — borrowed from the Bible — still seems prophetic: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”