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Tuesday, November 19, 2002

The Lincoln University-Barnes Foundation Relationship in Perspective: Lincoln University Acts to Protect Integrity of Responsibility for the Barnes Foundation
Foundation's Founder Entrusted Lincoln to Nominate 80 Percent of Trustees

LINCOLN UNIVERSITY, PA -- Throughout its history, Lincoln University, America's first Historically Black University, has developed strong ties with many significant institutions and individuals. One of those relationships includes the Barnes Foundation and its founder. Now the 56-year relationship that involves artwork worth billions of dollars is deliberately being jeopardized.

On October 8, 2002, Lincoln acted to intervene in proceedings involving the Barnes Foundation before the Montgomery County Orphans’ Court Division of the Court of Common Pleas in Pennsylvania. The University was forced to take legal action after the Foundation, through its trustees, filed a court petition on September 24, 2002 to amend its Charter and Bylaws.

Lincoln's concern is very basic and reasonable: The University wants to protect the integrity of its special role and responsibility Dr. Albert C. Barnes, a visionary art collector and patent medicine millionaire, entrusted to Lincoln – the role of nominating 80% (or four out of five) of the Barnes’ Board of Trustees. The Foundation's gallery houses a priceless collection of artworks, including Renoirs, Cezannes, Matisses and thousands of other masterworks of art. Through its current trustees, the Foundation now wants to set aside Dr. Barnes' will by increasing the number of trustees from five to 15, thus diluting Lincoln's influence.

Dr. Barnes created the Barnes Foundation on December 6, 1922. He formed a friendship with Dr. Horace Mann Bond, a 1923 Lincoln graduate, who served for many years as President of the University. Lincoln students interested in ceramics and biology majors studying plant systems and evolution attend lectures at the Foundation and its arboretum which are located about 50 miles from Lincoln's campus.

Adrienne G. Rhone, chairwoman of Lincoln's Board of Trustees, said: "We want the Lincoln University campus community and alumni as well as our friends and supporters to understand and appreciate the enormity of our responsibility to Dr. Bond and Dr. Barnes, and what the outcome means to the University."

The petition filed by the University describes the unique friendship and connection that Dr. Barnes formed with Dr. Bond, then President of Lincoln, beginning in 1946. During his lifetime, Dr. Barnes wrote of “weld[ing] Lincoln University and the Foundation in an educational enterprise that has no counterpart elsewhere.” To ensure that the institutional alliance between the Foundation and Lincoln would continue in perpetuity, Dr. Barnes amended his Foundation’s Trust Indenture on October 20, 1950.

Dr. Barnes had designated Lincoln as the institution that would eventually nominate four out of five of the Foundation’s trustees. The trustees would then oversee what Dr. Barnes had envisioned as part of his legacy: a teaching institution -- and not what its focus has narrowly become: an art gallery or museum.

Now, the University has been thrust into the throes of a complex and costly legal maneuver essentially for nominating control of the Barnes Foundation, Chairwoman Rhone said. Essentially, Lincoln has the power to nominate trustees for the Foundation; current trustees and others, perhaps to spite Dr. Barnes, and in envy of Lincoln, now want to wrest control and power from the University. It is a struggle that has been framed as a classic battle of "David versus Goliath." In this case, Lincoln University is "David," a small, Historically Black University. The giant Goliath is in the guise of the Foundation and its wealthy and well-connected interests in Philadelphia and vicinity, ironically, the types of persons that Dr. Barnes had come to despise, Rhone said.

"Lincoln University wants to preserve and protect the Bond and Barnes legacy. That is what is at stake here," Chairwoman Rhone said. "The enormous burden of proof to break this bond rests with the Barnes Foundation Trustees and wealthy and well-connected Philadelphia interests. Their legal hurdles are high. On the other hand, our defense bills also will be significant. However, state funds are not appropriate to cover our legal fees. We go forward to fight the good fight."

The University is represented by Carol A. Black, a 1967 Lincoln graduate, and partner in the law firm of Black and Adams; Edward N. Cahn, former Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for Eastern Pennsylvania, and Christopher A. Lewis, former Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and partners in the law firm of Blank Rome Comisky & McCauley.

The court is expected to issue its decision sometime next year.

Founded in 1854 as America's first Historically Black University, Lincoln University provides the best elements of a liberal arts and sciences-based undergraduate core curriculum and selected graduate programs to meet the needs of students living in a highly technological and global society. Lincoln enrolls approximately 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

From April 2003 through May 2004, Lincoln will celebrate its sesquicentennial, or 150th anniversary. For more information about the University, visit Lincoln's Web site at www.lincoln.edu.

For more information, contact:
Samuel W. Pressley, Director
Howard G. Kelly, Jr. Assistant Director
Lincoln University's Office of Marketing & Communications,
610-932-1094; e-mail: spressley@lu.lincoln.edu; home: 856-582-9574; hkelly@lu.lincoln.edu

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