Birmingham-Southern College in its latest statement issued Friday says it is exploring “every option,” which includes preparing to help students transfer to other colleges if it is unable to continue operations.
On Wednesday, the college learned its lawsuit against State Treasurer Young Boozer was dismissed, after Boozer had denied approval for a $30 million loan that college officials say is needed to stay open. The college said Wednesday it’s considering an appeal to the Alabama Supreme Court with a request for an expedited briefing.
“Since receiving word that our lawsuit against the State Treasurer was dismissed on Wednesday afternoon, we have been working nonstop to explore every option for the future of this college,” President Daniel Coleman said in a letter to supporters on Friday. “While we cannot disclose the details of those options, we share your sense of urgency, and we remain focused on finding a solution.”
That includes possible closure of the college, which would require students to transfer.
“Please be assured that however this situation plays out, we will do everything we can to ensure that our students, faculty, and staff are taken care of,” Coleman said. “We are lining up resources that we hope we never need, including direct coordination with other institutions to ease the transfer process. We are continuing to make our case both publicly and privately to people and organizations who can help.”
He added: “Please know that this fight is not over yet. We know there are a lot of rumors and misinformation circulating. Any critical information about the college will come directly from me.”
State Sen. Rodger Smitherman, who was instrumental in helping create the Alabama Distressed Institutions of Higher Education Revolving Loan Program, which he had hoped would allow an emergency $30 million loan Birmingham-Southern to continue operating, said the Legislature could conceivably rewrite the law. That couldn’t happen until the state legislature re-convenes in February, and he’s not sure the college can make it that long, he said.
“The comments and the statements that I’ve received from people there is that they’re going to need that short-term money to get through that second semester,” Smitherman said in an interview on Friday. “If they don’t get the money, they’re going to close.”
Smitherman noted that BSC has an estimated annual economic impact of $97.2 million, which state officials would be clamoring to lure to the state if it were a new business.
“We work down there (in Montgomery) to help communities get businesses that have economic impact,” Smitherman said. “Here’s one that’s $100 million, and we’re fixing to let it go under.”