Dear Alumni of The Lincoln University:
I would like to thank you all for your concern regarding the safeguarding of our beloved campus. Over the past several weeks, a petition has circulated via Facebook and possibly other social networking sites concerning the Azikiwe-Nkrumah Hall and I feel it is important to set the record straight.
First, the request to replace Azikiwe-Nkrumah Hall was made by Dr. Ivory Nelson more than four years ago as part of the Capital Projects Requests to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Legislature approved the request and funding is allocated as it becomes available within the state’s budget.
As part of the request, the Azikiwe-Nkrumah Hall was evaluated by a firm employed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of General Services in April 2009. The firm recommended that “the building’s condition ranged from poor to fair and would require a significant amount of work to bring it back to a useable life and service to the campus.” The firm further concluded that “because of the building’s prominent location and the cost of repairs it should be demolished.”
According to current records, the million dollars that some alumni leadership had indicated was spent on the building did not occur. The firm estimated that if restoration occurred in 2009 it would cost around that amount to repair the building and that it would probably last no more than seven to ten years.
The building, itself, was proposed as a Welcome Center because it is located at the main entrance of the campus which was part of the master plan the University completed in 1997 and updated in 2003. The plan was submitted as part of our accreditation reaffirmation process which was approved in 2008 by our accrediting agency. The new facility will be larger, house the Public Safety department as the current building does, and provide for the kind of camera access to protect the campus which we do not currently have in place.
While there may be several alumni who feel that the building should remain because of its historic value, there are others who feel that it is certainly not representative of the quality that bears the name of two of our most distinguished graduates. Recently, I had some visitors from Africa who inquired as to why the building was not representative of their leaders.
The petition and its creators had mentioned that the building is historic in nature. However, both the Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Society as well as the National Historic Society have evaluated all of the older buildings on the campus and determined that this is not a historic building.
On the other hand, it would be helpful if alumni raised funds to help us restore the Bond House, Guest House and any of the other properties, especially those that are historic, but not eligible for state funding.
As much as we appreciate alumni for being interested in the campus and its facilities, alumni should be well aware that the Board of Trustees through its Buildings and Property Committee has fielded the plans for campus improvements and we are working from that plan.
Thank you for your care and concern, which I certainly understand.
Dr. Robert R. Jennings
President, The Lincoln University