Overview of the University

Lincoln University was founded in 1854 as the nation's first degree-granting Historically Black College and University, or HBCU. Originally chartered as Ashmun Institute, it was re-named Lincoln University in 1866 in honor of President Abraham Lincoln. As Dr. Horace Mann Bond, ’23, the eighth president of Lincoln University so eloquently cites in the opening chapter of his book, Education for Freedom, this was “the first institution found anywhere in the world to provide a higher education in the arts and sciences for male youth of African descent.”

Since its inception, Lincoln has distinguished itself as an institution of higher education and has attracted an interracial and international enrollment from its surrounding community, region, and around the world. The University began admitting female students in 1952, and formally associated with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1972 as a state-related, coeducational university. Lincoln currently enrolls approximately 2,200 students.

Nestled on a beautiful campus in southern Chester County Pennsylvania, Lincoln is surrounded by rolling farmlands and wooded hilltops and is conveniently located 45 miles southwest of Philadelphia, 15 miles northwest of Newark, Delaware, 25 miles west of Wilmington, Delaware, and 55 miles north of Baltimore, Maryland. The main campus is located on 422 acres near the town of Oxford, Pennsylvania. In addition to the main campus, Lincoln also serves students in Center City Philadelphia and Coatesville, PA.

Lincoln is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and offers undergraduate academic programs in the arts and sciences and graduate programs in human services, reading, education, mathematics and administration. Lincoln University's International and Study Abroad Program has student participation in Service Learning Projects in the countries of Ecuador, Argentina, Spain, Ireland, Costa Rica, Japan, France, Cambodia, Zambia, Liberia, Ghana, Kenya, Russia, Australia, Thailand, the Czech Republic, Mexico, and South Africa.

During its first 100 years, Lincoln graduated approximately 20 percent of the black physicians and more than 10 percent of the black attorneys in the nation. Lincoln alumni have led more than 35 colleges and universities and scores of prominent churches. They also include U.S. ambassadors; mission chiefs; federal, state, and municipal judges; mayors; and city managers. Today, Lincoln graduates are also making names for themselves in creative and entertainment fields, including as writers, directors, comedians, and film executives. Some of Lincoln’s notable alumni include: Melvin B. Tolson, ’24, an educator and one of the most significant African American modernist poets; Hildrus A. Poindexter, ’24, the first African American to earn both an M.D. (1929, Harvard University) and a Ph.D. (1932, Columbia University) as well as also the first African American internationally-recognized authority on tropical diseases; Langston Hughes, ’29, world-acclaimed poet; Thurgood Marshall, ’30, the first African American U.S. Supreme Court Justice; Rev. James Robinson, ’35, founder of Crossroads Africa, which served as the model for the Peace Corps; Roscoe Lee Browne, ’46, author and widely acclaimed actor of stage and screen; Lawrence (Larry) Neal, ’61, one of the most influential scholars, authors and philosophers of The Black Arts Movement; Gil-Scott-Heron, a legendary American soul and jazz poet, musician and author, attended Lincoln in the late 1960s; Lillian Fishburne, ’71, the first African American female U.S. Navy Rear Admiral; Dr. Soraya M. Moore Coley, ’72, the 6th President, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona; Fred Thomas, Jr. ’91, actor, director and three-time NAACP award-winning playwright and Brittney Waters, ’13, professional women’s basketball player for the Ulster Rockets in Ireland.

Many of Lincoln’s international graduates have become outstanding leaders in their countries, including Nnamdi Azikiwe, ’30, the first president of Nigeria; Kwame Nkrumah, ’39, the first president of Ghana; Sibusiso Vil-Nkomo, Ph.D., ’81, the first Black dean of the University of Pretoria after the dismantling of Apartheid, and his wife, Renosi Mokate, ’81, former executive director of The World Bank Group as well as former CEO, South Africa Energy Fund, Tjama Tjivikua, Ph.D.,’83, the first rector of the Polytechnic of Namibia in Windhoek and Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, ’94, the first female Prime Minister of Namibia.

Lincoln University is one of the largest employers in southern Chester County with 316 full-time and 148 part-time employees, the majority of whom are Pennsylvania residents.