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Birmingham-Southern College in ‘financial distress’ in danger of closing, lawmakers say

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By Roy S. Johnson | rjohnson@al.com

Birmingham-Southern College, the liberal arts college whose roots date back to its charter as Southern University by the Alabama Legislature in 1856, is in danger of closing.

In a letter to members of the Jefferson County Delegation of the Alabama Legislature, Sen. Jabo Waggoner and Rep. Jim Carns wrote: “Birmingham-Southern has been operating in financial distress for over a decade. Without support, it will not be able to continue to operate after May 2023.”

Birmingham-Southern President Daniel Coleman, according to the letter, is seeking $30 million in state funding for the private college – $12.5 million from funds provided by the American Rescue Plan Act and $17.5 million from the Education Trust Fund.

He is also seeking $5 million from the city of Birmingham and $2.5 million from Jefferson County.

“[T]his infusion will cover projected deficits through May 31, 2026,” the letter states.

“Without a commitment from the state, the college will need to notify high school students that it will no longer be accepting applications by the middle of January,” the letter reads.

Coleman, according to the letter, has secured about 400 private pledges totaling more than $45 million over the past 18 months.

“The government infusion would enable the fundraising to continue for three more years so that BSC can replace its endowment and continue to operate as an independent college,” the letter states.

Waggoner and Carns did not address how the college fell into such financial straits.

“Birmingham-Southern is a jewel in our community,” the letter continues. “A pillar in our community on the west side of Birmingham since 1898, BSC has an important role to play in our county’s future.”

The Jefferson County legislative delegation is slated to meet Monday at 9 a.m. in person on campus and via Zoom.

“We will discuss President Coleman’s proposal and the best way forward enlisting the stage to put this college on stable financial footing,” the letter says.

This story is developing and will be updated.

This story appeared originally on al.com