Lincoln University President Resigns Amidst Rape Comment Controversy

by Susan Snyder for the Philadelphia Inquirer

Lincoln University President Robert R. Jennings, under fire since making statements about sexual assault at an all women's convocation on campus in September, resigned Monday morning, the university announced.

The resignation is immediate, and the university's general counsel, Valerie Harrison, is stepping in as acting president. Harrison this afternoon announced the appointment of a task force on sexual misconduct composed of faculty, students, and staff.

The task force, she said, will "develop recommendations for educational programs and other measures to further the university's commitment to providing a healthy and safe learning environment. We will be inviting thought leaders in the areas of gender equity and sexual violence to address our community as well."

Kimberly A. Lloyd, chair of Lincoln's board of trustees, announced Jennings' departure in an e-mail to the campus community earlier today, but through a spokesperson declined further comment.

Jennings' resignation comes a little more than a week after the university board announced it would conduct an internal review of his presidency.

The Inquirer reported earlier this month that Jennings had made remarks to an auditorium filled with female students that some interpreted as blaming women for sexual assault.

"We have, we had, on this campus last semester three cases of young women who after having done whatever they did with young men and then it didn't turn out the way they wanted it to turn out, guess what they did," Jennings said during the speech. "They went to Public Safety and said, 'He raped me.' "

Jennings, 63, who has led the historically black university in Chester County since January 2012, warned that such 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."

He told the Inquirer that he was referring to three cases in which women falsely reported rapes as revenge against men who had been unfaithful.

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Photo Credit: Michael S. Wirtz / Philadelphia Inquirer

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