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Birmingham-Southern College in Alabama to close at the end of May

Birmingham-Southern College in Alabama to close at the end of May

Birmingham-Southern College announced Tuesday that its operations will cease by the end of May after the school failed to secure a loan from the state.

The college’s board of trustees voted Tuesday to close the school after they were informed a bill designed to amend the state program for loans to higher-education institutions lacked support in Alabama’s House of Representatives.

“This is a tragic day for the College, our students, our employees, and our alumni,” said Rev. Keith D. Thompson, the chair of the board, in a statement. “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’s president, Daniel B. Coleman, said the college looked into every option to obtain a loan through the Distressed Institutions of Higher Learning Revolving Loan Fund, which was established after it was signed into law last June. The school applied for the loan but was denied in October 2023 by state Treasurer Young Boozer III.

The school maintained that it met all the statutory qualifications but was denied the loan regardless.

In an effort to get the loan approved, state Sens. Jabo Waggoner (R) and Rodger Smitherman (D) introduced a bill last month to amend the law that established the loan program. If passed, the bill would make the Alabama Commission on Higher Education administer the loan program instead of the treasurer.

The state Senate approved it, but the school said it lacked support in the state House. Boozer had opposed the new bill, according to reporting from AL.com.

“My warning to this committee, the public, and especially to taxpayers, if you loan it, you will own it,” Boozer said during a state House committee hearing earlier this month, according to the outlet.

Birmingham-Southern College, a private liberal arts institution, was founded in 1918 by the merger of two Methodist colleges. In its Tuesday announcement, the college said it has made plans for students who will be forced to transfer to other schools and is helping employees who will be displaced by May 31.

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