BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Months after its future was thrown into question, Birmingham-Southern College has decided to keep its doors open.

The decision, which was announced Thursday by school officials, came months after school officials announced that the college was nearly $38 million in debt and was in danger of shutting down if it could not find the money to stay open. No details were released on how the school would continue one despite its financial issues.

“The Board of Trustees has made the informed and thoughtful decision to keep Birmingham-Southern open,” BSC board chairman Rev. Keith D. Thompson said in a statement. “We have been working closely with our allies in state and local government to secure bridge funding. Thanks to their leadership, the Board felt comfortable moving forward, and has charged President Daniel Coleman with preparing for a public fundraising campaign to restore the College’s endowment.”

In his statement, President Coleman said the school had already begun reaching out to prospective students, as well as hiring faculty and staff, for the fall semester.

Specifically, BSC was looking for a one-time payment of $12.5 million in COVID-19 relief funding and $17.5 million in state education money to keep the school afloat. The private school, located on Arkadelphia Road, also requested a total of $7.5 million from both Birmingham and Jefferson County funds.

“We believe Birmingham-Southern College’s contributions to the greater Birmingham area and the state warrant such an investment, which is clearly permissible under state law and for which there is considerable precedent,” the college said in a statement to the Associated Press back in December.

Gov. Kay Ivey subsequently emphasized that the state would not give any money to BSC and both the Birmingham City Council and Jefferson County Commission declined to take up proposals to assist the school.

While questions of BSC’s future reached a fever pitch in the last couple of months, its financial stability has been on shaky ground for years. In 2010, at a time when the effects of the 2008 recession were still being felt across the country, it was revealed that the school was millions of dollars in debt as the result of a number of both accounting and management errors.

Due to the issues, former BSC Board of Trustees Chairman Dowd Ritter sent an email to students and alumni about what the issues were.

“Hindsight is 20/20 but, looking back today, basically the college found itself with misleading
numbers used in internal financial reports presented to committees of the Board and to the college administration; borrowings that were understated; and scholarships and discounts in tuition that were under-accounted for, which resulted in our record enrollments being partially
‘bought’ with higher discounting than shown on any reports, thus less revenue to cover expenses,” Dowd wrote in an email reprinted in ‘Southern Magazine.’

Nonetheless, Dowd went on to try and persuade the public at the time that BSC would weather the storm and come out stronger than ever.

“We have in Birmingham-Southern an institution of unique merit. We pledge our commitment, assurance, and conviction that this college will remain a financially sound institution of unparalleled excellence,” he wrote. “We need your support!”

However, BSC’s troubles would only continue through the years. In a recent audit, the school reportedly ran a $10 million deficit in 2019 and an $8.2 million deficit in 2018.

On Thursday, school officials claimed that nearly $46 million had been pledged by private donors and that BSC has sought bridge funding from public sources to finish out fulfilling its $200 million endowment.

Over the years, BSC has also dealt with dwindling enrollment. On its website, BSC claims that it has nearly 1,300 students enrolled. However, according to the National Center of Education Statistics, a total of 1,058 students were enrolled at BSC as of 2022. This is down from previous years, like in 2000, when the college had approximately 1,500 students enrolled, according to

BSC was first started in 1918 through the union of Southern University and Birmingham College.

Over the years, BSC has had a number of notable alumni, such as former New York Times editor Howell Raines, former Sen. Howell Heflin and Perry O. Hooper Jr., former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. John B. McLemore, the subject of the popular Alabama-centered podcast “S-Town,” also attended BSC, but did not graduate.