Birmingham-Southern College
Birmingham Southern Campus 642f3101a4fcc

Financially troubled Alabama college says it will remain open

April 6, 2023
Birmingham-Southern College says it is working to secure bridge funding from state and local governments.

The financially troubled Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham, Ala., will stay open.

Al.com reports that the college's Board of Trustees has voted unanimously to keep the private liberal arts college operating while it works to get back on solid financial footing.

 “The Board of Trustees has made the informed and thoughtful decision to keep Birmingham-Southern open,” said Rev. Keith D. Thompson, chair of the Board. “We have been working closely with our allies in state and local government to secure bridge funding.”    

The decision came after 24 hours of uncertainty as trustees met for more than eight hours to deliberate whether the college would stay open or close.

Officials at the small, private liberal arts school have spent months making their case to state and local legislators for taxpayer support. It’s unclear where the funding to keep the school open will come from; this winter, the school asked local and state governments for a one-time request of $37.5 million to keep doors open while school leaders work to replenish their endowment.

College officials say it’s impossible to answer with certainty every question relating to finances until the Alabama legislative session concludes.

The extent of the school’s financial woes became public in December, when officials asked the state legislature for $30 million in pandemic recovery and education funds, and a combined $7.5 million from city and county governments.

Financial problems first emerged in 2010, when then-president David Pollick resigned after a controversy over accounting errors, overspending and budget deficits. The school has worked to right-size its finances, but still has struggled to pay off debts and manage changing student needs.

Enrollment, which has typically hovered above 1,000, fell to 975 in the fall.

Officials projected a rise in freshman applicants this year, but it is unclear how many students have committed for the fall 2023 semester.

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin praised the school's decision to stay open but did not say whether the city had agreed to offer funding.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy has been writing about education for American School & University since 1999. He also has reported on schools and other topics for The Chicago Tribune, The Kansas City Star, The Kansas City Times and City News Bureau of Chicago. He is a graduate of Michigan State University.

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