On Dec. 17, 2022, Birmingham-Southern College (BSC) made a public statement announcing its possible closure in the wake of longstanding financial turmoil. The release described how the university came to be in financial danger and outlined how much BSC would need in funds to stay open and eventually financially recover.
As explained by the statement, university President Daniel Coleman has spent the last 18 months securing around $45 million in funds through “firm commitments” from “hundreds of private donors.” These funds are part of an overall goal to reach $200 million by May 2026, which President Coleman assures will be enough to get BSC back on its financial feet.
In asking for money from various local and state organizations, BSC representatives voiced why the Birmingham and Alabama communities should lend a hand to the university.
“Birmingham-Southern College and its graduates have made great contributions to our state, nation, and indeed the world,” the statement read. “We are now asking for support with bridge funding to ensure the future of this valuable educational institution.”
The press release went on to explain how the small liberal arts college got into the financial situation they are currently working through.
“BSC’s financial challenges began with a building program in the mid-2000s that drew heavily upon the endowment and caused the college to take on significant debt,” wrote BSC representatives in the statement. “The financial crisis of 2008-2009 and an error in the accounting of federal financial aid further depleted the college’s resources.”
After admitting the mismanagement of endowment funds and explaining their plan for recovering it, the university shared its hope after a positive response from state government officials.
“Some months ago, the college’s administration approached leaders in state government to share our plan for financial resilience. We found them receptive to our effort and we believe we will enjoy significant support for our plan,” the representatives wrote.
The press release wrapped up with a heartfelt and hopeful message regarding the university’s attitude going forward.
“As our plan unfolds, we will continue to share reports on the progress toward our goal. We remain confident that BSC will endure and thrive, and we are committed to making good on the college’s motto: ‘Forward, Ever,’” the statement ended.
In response to this announcement, both BSC and Samford students have reflected on the possible foreclosure of this educational Birmingham staple.
Sloan Miles, a senior at BSC, shared his thoughts on the student atmosphere on campus.
“I think right now there’s definitely a lull on campus and it’s sort of unavoidable in the sense that we can talk about it day in and day out, but the bottom line is that nobody has any form of clarity on the situation,” Miles commented.
He went on to further reflect on what he feels for his fellow students.
“I feel sad for all of my friends who are really feeling the effects of this as underclassmen and having to consider transferring or stopping school altogether,” Miles explained. “It’s a weird thing to say that and take a step back to look at this as a real possibility.”
He compared the experience to another emotional and unsettling one: divorce.
“It’s sort of like waiting for your parents to make the decision to either continue their marriage or divorce; you really don’t have a say in it, but you ultimately want them to stay together if the circumstances allow for that,” Miles lamented.
Overall, Miles is trying to keep a positive attitude and stick close to his community of friends and classmates.
“It’s a very unfortunate circumstance that we’ve found ourselves in; I feel sad but there’s a part of me that’s like ‘If this is the last semester, there’s no excuse for not trying and not doing everything you can personally to get as much as you can out of that,’” Miles expressed. “There’s a lot of prayer going into this and we’re just hoping for the best outcome at this point.”