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Birmingham-Southern College leader confident school can complete academic year despite money woes

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Officials at Birmingham-Southern College say options are firming up to keep the 167-year-old private, liberal arts institution open at least for the rest of the school year after a hoped-for $30 million bridge loan from the state fell through.

The school’s president updated the campus community on the efforts to find additional funding and keep the school open, reported.

“These developments give us confidence that, at a minimum, we will complete the academic year, during which we will continue to procure funds that will stabilize the College for the long term,” BSC President Daniel Coleman said in a letter Friday to the campus community. “That includes working with the Alabama Legislature, private donors and other entities.”

Lawmakers created a loan program that would provide $30 million in bridge funds to any college that applied – just enough to get BSC back on its feet. But two weeks ago, Alabama State Treasurer Young Boozer III denied the school’s loan application, forcing the college to reevaluate its options. BSC officials, in a lawsuit that was later dismissed, said the school would shut down in December if they couldn’t find enough funding.

Coleman said Friday that they’ll likely be able to put together enough funds to sustain operations, at least for one more semester. Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin is scheduled to present a $5 million economic development plan, which would partially support the school, to the city council on Nov. 21.

In the meantime, Coleman said, officials will continue to seek other funding options. He also praised the efforts of students, who have been putting pressure on Boozer to reconsider the school’s application.

A group of about 50 students traveled to Montgomery Friday morning, armed with heartfelt letters, to make their case. Boozer’s office did not meet with the students, but said Boozer received their letters and would read them.

“While the State Treasurer did not meet with them, they spoke eloquently to news media about the position his denial of the bridge loan has put them in, and they left written messages to be delivered to him asking him to reconsider,” Coleman said. “We can all be proud of how well they represented the College.”

He encouraged students, many of whom are considering their transfer options, to register for spring 2024 classes – and to continue to pressure state officials.

“We will continue the fight for our future,” he said.

The Methodist-affiliated school dates to 1856, when Southern University was founded in Greensboro, Alabama. That school merged with Birmingham College in 1918 to become Birmingham-Southern.

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