At the end of 2022, several news outlets confirmed the rumors many of us were afraid of—Birmingham-Southern College was in serious financial trouble. Since then, posts about the college have flooded social media, with many commenters supporting the College’s pleas for financial support, while others callously demand we “let it fail”.
As a recent graduate of the college, I’ll do my best to share how the college got to this point, how the college can be saved and why you should care.
About Birmingham-Southern College
Located three miles west of downtown, Birmingham-Southern College has been an integral part of the city for over 150 years. The college was created through the merger of Southern University (formed 1856) and Birmingham College (formed 1898). With a student/faculty ratio of 13:1, the College has typically supported between 1,200 and 1,400 students from around the country—and around the world.
Over the past two decades, Birmingham-Southern has dealt with a series of financial issues, compounded during the 2008 Financial Crisis. Since then, Birmingham-Southern College Presidents have done a remarkable job of lifting the college from the brink of financial ruin to relative stability, notably General Charles Krulak (2011-2015) and Daniel Coleman (2018-present). Unfortunately, the college’s finances were heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In December 2022, Birmingham-Southern College released a Statement Regarding the College’s Future. Although President Daniel Coleman has worked diligently to secure $45M in firm commitments towards a goal of refreshing the college’s endowment, the college is asking for a one-time contribution from the State of Alabama, the City of Birmingham and Jefferson County.
Simply put, the college will not be able to continue operations without this bridge funding.
Public funding for private colleges and universities is not unprecedented. Recently, Senator Richard Shelby secured $35M in federal funding for Spring Hill College, a private Catholic college in Mobile. This year, the State of Alabama’s 2023 Education Trust Fund Budget includes $13,151,435 for Tuskegee University (Private) and $1,054,175 for Talladega College (Private).
Why Alabama needs Birmingham-Southern College
As a 2019 graduate of Birmingham-Southern College, I will proudly say that Birmingham-Southern is the reason I chose to live in Alabama—and I am not alone. Of the 17,000 living BSC alumni, 9,500 call Alabama home. These alumni are lawyers, doctors, artists, entrepreneurs, teachers and leaders in their community.
“All of the alumni I’ve met in Birmingham seem to have one trait in common: They are purposefully engaged in our community. There must be something about the BSC experience that is different because there is something different about BSC graduates. They have an outsized impact on the world around them.”President Daniel Coleman, Birmingham-Southern College
It’s not just Birmingham-Southern Alumni that are engaged in the community. While at the College, students and the College work with neighborhood groups, government and corporate leaders, local merchants, schools, nonprofits and faith-based organizations to make a positive impact in the surrounding neighborhoods of Smithfield, Graymont, College Hills, Bush Hills and Arlington-West End.
Birmingham-Southern College is the only nationally ranked liberal arts college in Alabama, with 80% of alumni going on to pursue graduate degrees at institutions like the University of Alabama at Birmingham Auburn University, the University of Alabama and more.
Perhaps most importantly, 30% of current students are the first members of their family to attend college.
But don’t take my word for it
Since the news of Birmingham-Southern College’s predicament broke, graduates, faculty and others have shared how the college affected their lives by tagging their Facebook posts with #BSCForward. Here are just a few examples.
These are just a few of the countless posts in support of Birmingham-Southern. Click here to read more #BSCForward posts.
How YOU can support Birmingham-Southern College
The best way to support Birmingham-Southern College is to contact your representatives and make your voice heard. For tips on what to say to your representatives, visit Birmingham-Southern’s BSC Forward page.
Contact Alabama Governor Kay Ivey
- Mail: 600 Dexter Avenue, Montgomery, AL 36130-2751
- Call: (334) 242-7100
Contact Birmingham Mayor Woodfin
- Email: Randall.Woodfin@birminghamal.gov
- Cc: Chief of Staff Cedrick Sparks – Cedric.Sparks@birminghamal.gov
- Phone: (205) 254-2771
- Determine your representatives in the Alabama House and Senate here.
- Determine your Jefferson County Commissioner here.
- Determine your Birmingham City Councilor here.
To support the college financially, you can make a new gift to the Birmingham-Southern College Foundation or renew your pledge to the Birmingham-Southern College Foundation.
If you’ve made it this far, I urge you to join me and thousands of other ‘Southern students, faculty, alumni and more in voicing your support for Birmingham-Southern College.