An internal review will be conducted of Dr. Robert Jennings, President of Lincoln University, in the aftermath of his controversial comments about sexual assault.
“The Board of Trustees of The Lincoln University has reviewed the actions of the President and has referred the matter to the Executive Committee to develop a definitive plan of action to advance the mission of the University for the benefit of all of its students, faculty, alumni, staff, and other stakeholders,” wrote Kimberly Lloyd, the Chair of Lincoln University’s Board of Trustees, in a released statement. “The Board considers this an issue of the utmost importance and therefore intends to begin its review as soon as possible. The review must be thorough and comprehensive and we will take the necessary time to ensure that happens.”
The announcement was made during Lincoln University’s board meeting Saturday morning. Over 100 students, parents and alumni attended the meeting, some hoping that Jennings would be fired for his remarks, which were made at an all-women’s convocation in September.
During the convocation, Jennings told an auditorium of female students that there had been three false rape accusations during the previous semester at Lincoln. Jennings told the crowd such allegations can ruin a young man’s life and urged them not to put themselves in a situation where they would be “trying to explain something that really needs no explanation.”
The Chester County District Attorney’s Office told NBC10 Jennings’ comments were “inaccurate” however. While the University is mandated to contact the District Attorney’s Office with any cases of sexual assault, only one attempted sex assault at Lincoln was reported to them, according to a DA spokesperson.
The spokesperson told NBC10 the allegation was not prosecuted because prosecutors could not prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Jennings’ comments sparked outrage and protests from both parents and students at Lincoln University. Many criticized the remarks as appearing to blame women for sexual assault.
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"When he was saying it I felt like he was accusing girls of lying in general," said Rachaya Miles, a student at Lincoln. "That's not the case."
Jennings apologized for the remarks and said in a message on the university's website that he was trying "to emphasize personal responsibility and mutual respect." He also said, “Sexual misconduct will not be tolerated” at the university.
NBC10 reached out to Jennings on Saturday for comment regarding the announcement of the internal review. He has not yet gotten back to us however.
Founded in 1854 and based in Oxford, Chester County, Pennsylvania, Lincoln University is the first degree-granting historically black university in the United States. While it was founded as a private school, it became a public institution in 1972. Notable Lincoln alumni include U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes.