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EXCLUSIVE — Miles College Signs Letter of Intent to Acquire Birmingham-Southern College

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By Barnett Wright

The Birmingham Times

Miles College has signed a letter of intent (LOI) to begin negotiations to purchase Birmingham-Southern College, the private liberal arts school that closed May 31, The Birmingham Times has learned.

Reached Sunday afternoon, a spokesperson for Miles told the Times, “Yes, I can confirm that the letter has been signed, but neither President [Bobbie] Knight nor the college will make any further comments at this time.”

Daniel Coleman, president of the Birmingham Southern when it closed May 31, after it was unable to secure a loan from the state, told The Times late Sunday that he would not comment on the LOI.

However, he did tell the Times, “I am working very hard to make sure whatever is on that campus is viable and vital for Birmingham and for the neighborhood. That is one of my very top priorities.”

BSC’s board of trustees voted unanimously on March 26 to shut the 192-acre campus, surrounded by Bush Hills, College Hills, and Smithfield communities in west Birmingham.

Sources say Coleman has been having “fruitful” negotiations with Miles for the past month and it is believed that the agreement with the Fairfield-based Historical Black College and University (HBCU) was signed on June 19 and approved by the Miles board of trustees the following day. The BSC board of trustees met on Friday morning.

The LOI comes as media outlets reported that another HBCU, Alabama A&M University, was planning to submit an all-cash offer to purchase BSC. It’s unclear what happened with those talks. Multiple efforts to reach Shannon Reeves, Sr., Vice President of Government Affairs and External Relations at AAMU, for comment were unsuccessful.

Coleman had hoped a $30 million state loan, along with $7.5 million in local funding could bridge the college through a crisis until a fundraising drive restored the drastically depleted endowment.

(This story will be updated)