Birmingham-Southern College to Close After Failing to Secure State Loan

Birmingham-Southern College, a private liberal arts school in Birmingham, Ala., is set to close at the end of May, bringing a bitter end to the school’s nearly 170-year history after it failed to secure a multimillion-dollar loan from the state.

The school’s board of trustees voted unanimously on Tuesday to shut the school, with the college’s hundreds of students and staff receiving formal notice shortly after.

“This is a tragic day for the college, our students, our employees, and our alumni,” the Rev. Keith D. Thompson, the chair of the board, said in a news release. “But it is also a terrible day for Birmingham, for the neighborhoods who have surrounded our campus for more than 100 years, and for Alabama.”

The school has been mired in debt for years. The 2009 recession, and then the coronavirus pandemic worsened the toll of expensive campus investments and a dwindling endowment. But many staff and students had hoped that its future could be salvaged after Alabama lawmakers last year approved a new loan program that could lend Birmingham-Southern as much as $30 million.

Daniel Coleman, the school’s president, had proposed an ambitious plan to use the loan as a bridge to stay open while the college sought to replenish its endowment with commitments from private donors. But Young Boozer III, the state treasurer, twice denied the loan last year, citing concerns about the school’s ability to pay its debts.

“If you loan it, you will own it — it is a falling knife,” Mr. Boozer told a House committee this month.

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