Open Letter of Resignation

10 August 2007

Dr Ivory V Nelson, President

Lincoln University

1570 Baltimore Pike

P O Box 179

Lincoln University, PA 19352-0999

Re: Open Letter of Resignation

"Verily, Allah (The God) does not take away knowledge from people directly

but He takes away the scholars and consequently takes away knowledge along

with them and leaves amongst people the ignorant as their leaders who deliver

religious verdicts without adequate knowledge and themselves go astray and lead

others astray." A saying of Prophet Muhammad (upon him be Peace), transmit-

ted by Abdullah Bin Amr Al-As.

Dear Mr President:

With heavy heart and great reluctance I am resigning from my position, as Lincoln University's first and only tenured Distinguished Professor of Mathematics, and from all my other responsibilities in the University, effective 14 August 2007. I shall vacate my office and turn in all keys and University office property in my possession on or before that date. Moreover, I shall have all my personal belongings (books, papers, plaques, and furniture) removed from my University housing (which is paid in full through the end of this month) on or before 31 August 2007.

This moment in time has been in the making since early Fall 2000 when it became clear to me that your Administration appears to have no real interest in Lincoln University being truly competitive in Mathematics, Science and Engineering education, evidenced by

  1. your removing from department chair leadership positions within the mathematics and science division all of the well known productive scholarly ex-slave descendents, who were serving as role models for the 95% or more ex-slave descendent student body (the education and development of whom the University was established);
  2. your preventing interested students from being admitted to the University and from being registered in the newly approved (by the Board of Trustees) much needed graduate mathematics and science programs, which were initiated only a year earlier (claiming pre-textually low enrollments);
  3. your appointing as Interim Chair of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science a Professor, who has no degrees in Mathematics or Computer Science; and
  4. your breaking up a productive and very prosperous mathematics and science resource center/laboratory in 2001 and ultimately closing it down during the summer of 2004 when you took away its precious space and turned it over to the Information Technology (IT) unit.

These actions effectively took away the opportunity of the interested and aroused albeit under-educated and mis-educated ex-slave descendent student population to acquire higher education in mathematics and the sciences in a humane teaching and learning environment lead by qualified teachers totally committed to teaching and developing all of these students. However, because of my great love for Lincoln and for her noble tradition of well-educating and developing ex-slave descendents from the cotton, corn, and tobacco fields of the South and from the concrete jungles of the North, and my very strong desire to do for our generally wonderful students what my teachers at Lincoln had done for me:the salutatorian of the class of 1949, graduating in three years with majors in Chemistry and Mathematics and minors in French and Physics, accepted to pursue the PhD in the three graduate schools applied to (PhD in Chemistry at the University of Michigan, PhD in Chemistry at Harvard, and PhD in Mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology):I remained at Lincoln. At this point, it has become impossible for me to carry out that mission. It is impossible simply because mathematics, which is the key subject in the academic curriculum, is no longer being effectively taught. It has been dumbed down in the University to such a degree that 97% of all mathematics courses regularly taught are lower level:middle and high school, freshman and sophomore. As I predicted a few years ago, this lowering of University standards has lead inexorably to no ex-slave descendent receiving a degree in Mathematics in Lincoln's May 2007 graduation and to only one European American student qualifying for a BS in Mathematics Education. 

In the face of the national need for more and better trained mathematicians, scientists and engineers, with the overemphasis of the present mathematics leadership on remediation and with the continued conscious hiring of mathematics teachers, who have not had at least 18 hours of core graduate content mathematics, Lincoln is destined to produce very little. 

The record clearly shows that from 2000 to the present the quality of the mathematics courses has been lowered. For examples: MAT 103, which was intermediate algebra, has become basic mathematics and elementary algebra; MAT 104, which was algebra and applications (some topics in finite mathematics), has become intermediate algebra; Calculus I has generally lost its chapter on integration, which has been made a part of Calculus II; Calculus II has generally lost its chapter on sequences and series, which has in part been put into Calculus III; Calculus III has generally lost its chapter on conic sections and polar coordinates. The record also clearly shows that I never compromised the standards we set for our students ten years ago, and the record also clearly shows that my students did quite well compared to those who were taught "watered down" contents of courses with the same names.

The above rather brief explanation of the serious problems in properly educating students in mathematics at Lincoln University should reveal to you that I, the only ex-slave descendent teaching mathematics here, am powerless to help all of our students have a meaningful and enjoyable experience learning and doing mathematics, for the majority have chosen the way to very limited progress:lowering standards and inadvertently making simple/easy ideas difficult. Thus, on my recent reviving trip to Mother Africa I came definitively to the decision to accept the opportunity and the challenge to be helpful to larger bodies of students and teachers elsewhere, who want guidance and direction. As a consequence, I am leaving your leadership, which has produced an inhumane ineffective mathematics teaching and learning environment, but I am not leaving Lincoln University and her wonderful students, who need many more knowledgeable and understanding teachers who look like them and who have the will to care for them and teach them properly.


Abdulalim A Shabazz, '49, PhD (Mathematical Analysis)

Distinguished Professor of Mathematics

2000 Presidential Awardee for Excellence in Science,

Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring

XC: Dr Grant D Venerable, II, Vice-President, Academic Affairs

Dr Gladys Willis, Dean, School of Humanities and Graduate Studies

Dr John O Chikwem, Dean, School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Dr Judith Thomas, Dean, School of Social Sciences and Behavioral Studies

Dr Willie Williams, Contract Administrator, LUC-AAUP

Ms Sharman Lawrence, President, General Alumni Association

Mr Bruce Benson, Secretary, General Alumni Association

Lincoln University Board of Trustees

Lincoln University Faculty

Lincoln University Students