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Mayor Woodfin pushes for BSC funding as Gov. Ivey shuts down bailout

Birmingham-Southern College

In December of 2022, Birmingham-Southern College said it needed a one-time investment of $37.5 million from the State, the City of Birmingham, and Jefferson County to keep its doors open.

BSC claims that it could be forced to end all operations by May of this year if the state and local governments do not help.

In a press release, the college said, "BSC’s financial challenges began with a building program in the mid-2000s that drew heavily upon the endowment and caused the College to take on significant debt. The financial crisis of 2008-2009 and an error in the accounting of federal financial aid further depleted the College’s resources. Subsequent presidents did a remarkable job of funding the year-to-year operations of the College despite significant challenges. Without a healthy endowment, the economic model under which BSC operates is simply not sustainable for the long term."

BSC has asked state and local officials and alumni to lobby Gov. Kay Ivey to include that bailout in her upcoming budget proposal. But Ivy says the State of Alabama will not provide the aid the college needs to keep things running. Her communications manager released a statement last week saying, “the state does not have plans to use the taxpayers’ public funds to bail out a private college.”

Meantime, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin is rallying behind bailing out Birmingham-Southern College. He said in a press release on the City's website, "With a relatively small investment, saving BSC would signal that Alabama values education, that one size does not fit all, and that there is room on this state’s educational landscape for colleges large and small, public and private."

The mayor went on to say, "Saving BSC will also send a powerful message to innovation-focused businesses thinking about settling in Birmingham: That Alabama is committed to changing the fact that only 25 percent of adults over age 25 have a college degree so that they can find their next great hires right here."

A study by an independent economist found Birmingham-Southern College has a direct economic impact of $97.2 million each year on the State of Alabama’s economy.

Baillee Majors is the Morning Edition host and a reporter at Alabama Public Radio.
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