Eastern opening doors to Lincoln College students as institution closes


Rob Le Cates

Eastern’s Director of Enrollment Support Justin Tierney speaks on Eastern creating a transfer plan for the Lincoln College students after the school closes in May Tuesday afternoon. Tierney said as an alumni, the closing is heartbreaking.

Madelyn Kidd and Corryn Brock

Eastern is preparing to assist Lincoln College students as their institution plans to close its doors in May after 157 years.

University President David Glassman said Eastern is in a good place to assist students from Lincoln College.

“As an institution of higher education, we were certainly sad to hear about the upcoming closing of Lincoln College. Our hearts go out to their employees and students,” Glassham said. “Thankfully, EIU is in a good position—academically, culturally, and geographically—to lend our support to Lincoln College students who wish to continue their higher education journeys in an empowering environment where they’ll be afforded the flexibility and encouragement to persist toward degree completion.”

Josh Norman, vice president of enrollment management, along with members of the enrollment management team have been working with Lincoln College officials to create a smooth transition between the institutions.

Vice President of Academic Affairs Jay Gatrell highlighted Eastern’s plans and said he hopes to help Lincoln College students through the closing of their school.

“EIU has developed a ‘teach out’ plan in partnership with our colleagues at Lincoln to ensure all students have a clear pathway to graduation in specific degree programs.  Our plan, which has been approved by the Higher Learning Commission, focuses on reducing barriers sometimes associated with the transfer experience, such as the ‘residency requirement’—and provides faculty advisors with critical flexibility,” Gatrell said. “Finally, I am thankful for Justin Tierney’s commitment to serving all students as he was the driving force behind our efforts to work with Lincoln leadership to make sure all of these students can call EIU home.”

This includes working individually with students to address their needs, increased flexibility with Lincoln College transfers, increased student assistance, leniency with the residency requirement, financial assistance and help with document learning disabilities.

One need that has yet to be addressed by Eastern, however, is the ability for students to remain living on campus when classes are not in session.

Eastern does offer housing over the breaks in the spring and fall semester, as well as the summer semester, to students who need to remain on campus for classes or other circumstances and Director of Housing Mark Hudson said he is open to working with students form Lincoln College to meet those needs specifically.

“I would say that there are students that are EIU students of whatever background, doesn’t matter, who really use EIU as their base that don’t have a place to go back to, so that’s not necessarily unusual,” Hudson said. “So certainly, if people had interest in trying to come to EIU for that kind of service, I’m pretty confident we could figure something out.”

Justin Tierney, a member of Eastern’s enrollment management team and Lincoln College alum/former employee, has been essential to working with the college and its students as they seek out their academic options.

“For us, it’s really just about supporting the student in any way that we can,” Tierney said.

He said his connection to the college made him want to help in whatever way he could.

“So it’s a cause near and dear to my heart because I am an alum,” Tierney said. “I worked in college for three years. I’m from Lincoln, Illinois. So as soon as I found out, we set a lot of wheels in motion.”

Tierney added that the college closing hits close to home for him.

“I’m not a crier, but there’s been some tears shed in this office,” Tierney said. “Lincoln College is a really special place. They’ve been educating students for 157 years. To see it go away is devastating, and just very disheartening for me personally.”

Beyond his personal ties to Lincoln College itself, Tierney said helping students has been a driving force for him.

“Part of the reason that this has been kind of a passion project for me is just wanting to make sure the students aren’t harmed by something that’s totally beyond their control. Right? Like they’re doing everything they’re supposed to be doing,” Tierney said. “You know, I think there’s a calling as a higher education professional, above all, those students need to be supported. And so we’re just trying to find the ways that we can do that. Me being an alum and having relationships there just makes it a little more personal for me.”


Madelyn Kidd and Corryn Brock can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].