In a letter to alumni, the board of trustees of Birmingham-Southern College announced that it voted unanimously Wednesday evening to keep the college open.
“The Board of Trustees has made the informed and thoughtful decision to keep Birmingham-Southern open,” the Rev. Keith D. Thompson, chair of the board, said in the letter. “We have been working closely with our allies in state and local government to secure bridge funding.
“Thanks to their leadership, the board felt comfortable with moving forward and has charged President Daniel Coleman with preparing for a public fundraising campaign to restore the College’s endowment,” said Thompson, a 1983 BSC alumnus.
Much work lies ahead for the college, Coleman said.
“We are already reaching out to our prospective students and will be hiring faculty and staff to ensure that we are delivering the full BSC experience this fall,” he said. “We will also be gearing up for the public phase of the endowment campaign, which will ensure our long-term financial resilience.”
Thompson said it is impossible to answer with certainty every question relating to the college’s finances until the Alabama legislative session concludes.
“President Coleman and so many others have been working tirelessly to secure the resources needed to take BSC forward,” that board chair wrote. “We are especially grateful to the elected officials who have championed this cause because of its impact on Birmingham and Alabama. And we are also deeply grateful for the outpouring of support from our alumni, students, faculty, staff, parents, the business community, and friends who have written, called, emailed, and met with elected officials to help make the case for public support. That has sent a powerful signal about what BSC means to Alabama.”
Thompson said work continues with legislators through the end of the legislative session to ensure all are aware of the “significant direct economic impact BSC provides each and every year, as well as the immense contributions made by our alumni to the civic, business, and political leadership of our state.”
The letter said the decision came as the college has experienced a six-year high in applications and has worked to address Alabama’s workforce shortage through the addition of undergraduate and master’s programs in data science. In addition, the letter said BSC is Alabama’s only nationally ranked liberal arts college and has an annual direct economic impact of $97.2 million on the state, according to an independent study by Dr. Keivan Duravi that was released in February. Duravi, a retired economics professor from Auburn University at Montgomery, for years has issued economic forecasts used by the state when drafting its budgets as well as multiple large corporations and lobbying and law firms.
The letter concluded by saying BSC has secured nearly $46 million in pledges from private donors toward a goal of $200 million in endowment funds and has sought bridge funding from public sources to allow time to finish that campaign. A $200 million endowment will support 20% of BSC’s annual operating budget, providing the stability needed for the long term.