‘The signal never dropped’

Rowan College of South Jersey grads can now transfer to Lincoln University

Albert J. Countryman Jr./The Sun Dr. Frederick Keating, president of the Rowan College of South Jersey, celebrates the school’s new transfer partnership with Lincoln University while looking on are future Lincoln students Simran Sharma and Jaeden McMurty on Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 21, at the RCSJ campus in Deptford.

In 1854 – seven years before the Civil War erupted – Presbyterian minister John Miller Dickey and his wife Sarah Emlen Cresson, a Quaker, founded the Ashmun Institute outside of Oxford, Pennsylvania, for African Americans who had little opportunity to receive a higher education.

In 1866, just one year after President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, the institute was renamed Lincoln University.

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Graduates over the years from the 400-plus acre campus in Pennsylvania’s Chester County include Thurgood Marshall, the first African American U.S. Supreme Court Justice; Nnamdi Azikiwe, the first president of Nigeria; and Sheila Oliver, the first African American woman and the first woman of color elected to a New Jersey statewide office who served as lieutenant governor for five years.

Thanks to a special partnership signed on Feb. 21, graduates of Rowan College of South Jersey (RCSJ) can transfer to Lincoln University and earn a bachelor’s degree at the school, an Historical Black College and University (HBCU).

RCSJ graduates will now have a streamlined path to transfer into Lincoln and pursue one of 35 undergraduate programs, along with 10, $3,000 scholarships awarded annually. Present at the ceremonial signing agreement were the first two recipients of these scholarships: Simran Sharma, an accounting major with a 4.0 GPA, and Jaeden McMurty, a communications major and president of the RCSJ Student Government Association.

“I am extremely grateful to RCSJ and Lincoln University,” Sharma said of the signing to 70-plus guests in the Acenda Behavioral Science Center on the Deptford campus. “The past few years at Rowan have been nothing short of transforming. I look forward to continued success for me and everyone else on campus.

“Thanks to the incredible teachers and people here at RCSJ, I have been able to broaden my horizons and gain more professional skills,” McMurty noted. “Thanks to all of you here for the opportunity to transfer to Lincoln University.”

The signing ceremony opened with introductions by Susan Nardelli, director of communications, marketing and government affairs at RCSJ, who said, “Our goal is for every student to find the right fit for their career.”

She then welcomed Dr. Brenda Allen, Lincoln’s president, to the podium.

“We are very happy to welcome Jaeden and Simran. I can see the support young people have from this institution,” observed Allen, adding that the goal at Lincoln is teaching students to “become independent, critical thinkers.”

“Lincoln University was the first HBCU institution to grant degrees,” said the ceremony’s next speaker, Provost Dr. Patricia A. Joseph. “The campus environment itself is welcoming, and we continue to provide a quality education. We are looking forward to executing this Memorandum of Understanding with Rowan College.”

“Our goal is to provide support and a strategic pathway to success for students leaving Rowan,” explained RCSJ Vice President Almarie Jones, adding that the two schools agreed to the transfer agreement during a Zoom meeting because Allen was on an Amtrak train to Boston.

“The signal never dropped.”

Rowan President Dr. Frederick Keating recalled that when he was a college student, his team played Lincoln in basketball.

“I left a little blood on the floor,” he joked. “They always had a good basketball team back then.”

Keating thanked everyone involved in creating the new partnership and praised future Lincoln students Sharma and McMurty.

“I have met and spoken to both of them as leaders of student government,” he said, “and they both have great futures.”

Lincoln University has been an educational pathway for many students in its 170 years. From 1854 to 1954, its graduates accounted for 20% of African American physicians and more than 10% of African American lawyers in the U.S.

Now Sharma and McMurty – and future Rowan graduates – will have the opportunity to carve their own pathway to success at the school.

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