LINCOLN UNIVERSITY, Pa. (AP) — The embattled president of a historically Black university in Philadelphia’s suburbs quit Monday, ending a tumultuous semester of sharp criticism and administrative introspection following remarks in which upset parents said he appeared to be blaming women for rape.
Lincoln University’s board of trustees said Monday morning it accepted Robert Jennings’ resignation and named general counsel Valerie Harrison as acting president.
“The future is bright for Lincoln,” board chairwoman Kimberly Lloyd wrote in a letter on the school’s website.
Jennings, 63, could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.
Harrison, in her own letter, said the university would form a task force comprised of students, faculty and staff to develop educational programs and strengthen efforts to prevent sexual misconduct. The university, she said, will invite experts on gender equity and sexual violence to speak on campus.
Jennings resignation came a week after Lincoln’s board of trustees said it would conduct an internal review of his nearly three-year presidency amid outcry over his remarks at an all-women’s convocation in September about how false rape allegations can ruin a young man’s life.
“Don’t put yourself in a situation that would cause you to be trying to explain something that really needs no explanation had you not put yourself in that situation,” Jennings told the university’s all-women’s convocation, according to excerpts of his talk posted on YouTube.
Jennings also warned the female students that men can deceive and exploit them and urged them to respect themselves and demand respect from men.
“Men treat you, treat women, the way women allow us to treat them. We will use you up if you allow us to use you up,” he said, adding that men will “marry the girl with the long dress on.”
Jennings apologized earlier this month, saying he intended only “to emphasize personal responsibility and mutual respect” and did not mean to hurt or offend anyone. He urged students to report any suspicion of sexual misconduct to university police or officials.
Jennings’ remarks were the latest source of derision in his tenure at the 1,800-student university in rural Chester County. Faculty members took a vote of no confidence on Jennings in late October, five months after a similar vote by the university’s alumni association.
They cited declining enrollment — including a 7.3 percent drop after his first year — as well as a decrease in endowment and negative financial ratings. Since 2009, Lincoln’s full-time equivalent enrollment has fallen 26 percent.