BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — In December, Birmingham Southern President Daniel Coleman sounded an alarm, the school needed an infusion of $37.5 million or else the doors may be closing on the storied institution.
That press conference back in December was meant be a rallying cry for help. But BSC President Daniel Coleman is finding the road to firm financial footing is a treacherous climb.
Coleman took over as President of Birmingham Southern in December of 2018 after serving on the BSC board for many years. By his own admission, he was well aware of the challenges the school was facing.
”I knew exactly what I was getting into. I managed a huge part of a global bank during the economic crisis. I undertook a large merger in New York to create a public company and clean up the company. I guess I’m a glutton for punishment. But of all the projects I’ve undertaken, this is the most important,” said Coleman.
Meredith Alsabrook is a proud 2009 graduate of Birmingham Southern and has spearheaded several letter writing efforts to state and local officials in hopes of saving a school that she believes in with her whole heart.
”There are alums that live in every county in Alabama. We can’t lose Birmingham southern college and what it does for this state, the economy and the servant leaders it produces,” Alsabrook said.
To avoid closure, BSC needs to raise $200M over the next three years, with $45.5M in pledges currently.
And is requesting $30 million from State of Alabama and $7.5 million from city of Birmingham and Jefferson County.
But helping BSC, a private institution with public dollars is a divisive issue for legislators like State Representative Juandalynn Givan.
”I’ve heard from alumnus and future alumnus. I’ve heard from board members from other universities around the state of Alabama. Regardless of race or political party. There is a divide, and you have more folks that agree on this issue which is rare in Alabama than not. And for them there is concern with the 30-plus million price tag on it from the state of Alabama,” Givan said.
But Coleman says there is recent evidence of the state doing exactly what he is asking them to do.
”I would look at it similar to what we did last year for Hudson-Alpha. We took 15 million effectively from the Education Trust Fund and gave it to Hudson-Alpha, which is neither a public nor an education institution. But it’s probably a really good investment for the state,” said Coleman.
The legislative session gets underway in March in Montgomery. President Coleman said due to the dire situation they find themselves in, they will need have some sort of resolution before then.