With the reopening of Lincoln Hall more than two years behind us, an initiative tied to the renovation grows more significant every day. The Lincoln Scholars program has so far provided financial assistance to 50 Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) students to help complete their studies.
Funded mainly through donors, the scholarship program selected its first nine Lincoln Scholars in fall 2012. It’s been growing ever since, providing assistance to students with unmet financial need and good academic standing so they can attend the U of I.
Barbara Wilson, dean of the College of LAS, said the scholarship program is fundamental to the college’s mission as part of a public, land-grant university.
“The rising costs of attending college are of utmost concern to the College of LAS. We want to ensure that we are accessible to everyone,” Wilson said. “The Lincoln Scholars program has been central to our efforts to bring good students here who otherwise may be deterred by their financial situation.”
Through support tied to the Lincoln Hall renovation– including donations, purchases of courtyard pavers and benches, pledges and deferred gifts, and naming opportunities, including those for theater seats, the theater itself, the east entryway, and classroom and office spaces– the College of LAS has raised more than $4.4 million for the Lincoln Scholars program. The goal is $10 million.
Jim (B.S. ’82, biology; M.D. ’86, medicine) and June (B.S. ’84, biology; MBA ’92) Nikoleit are strong supporters of the Lincoln Scholars program. June said they remember studying many hours in the landmark building, and were thrilled to see it renovated.
“We feel that by providing financial support to the future generation, we can continue to assure that all deserving students will have the opportunity to access the wealth of higher learning from this university,” June said. “The University of Illinois provides the necessary tools for hardworking students to excel in this world. We feel blessed to have the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life.”
Money raised for the program is placed in an endowment to provide scholarships without end. Lincoln Scholars receive $5,000 per year under the program, from their freshman year until they graduate. Lincoln Scholars are selected for their strong academic record as well as their financial need.
“We are ever grateful to those friends of the college who have supported this initiative,” Wilson said. “As if the success of students already in the Lincoln Scholars program isn’t enough reward, we are laying the foundation for a program that will open doors to countless students for years to come.”