Birmingham-Southern College (BSC) officials are asking alums to lobby state and local elected officials for a $37.5 million government bailout.
According to an email from Birmingham-Southern College President Daniel Coleman to alumni obtained by the Birmingham Business Journal, Coleman said he "hopes these appropriations will be a part of Gov. Kay Ivey's proposed budgets and that the Alabama Legislature will concur."
"Even so, we have much work to do to make it happen — primarily letting the governor and the Legislature know that there is public support for this investment," Coleman said in the email. "We need to time our effort to begin on Jan. 5, 2023, and continue through at least the middle of the month."
Coleman suggests that alumni call and email state and local lawmakers to support the bailout.
Coleman told Jefferson County lawmakers recently that the school's financial troubles resulted from debt from campus building projects in the 2000s.
"Unfortunately, these good times ended when the College spent a lot of its endowment and took on a significant amount of debt between 2005 and 2010," Coleman said. "While the plan to build out a fabulous campus to attract more students was well-intentioned, the execution of this plan was fraught; its timing was a disaster. Had we not undertaken this strategy, our endowment would be close (to) $200 million. Our campus would not be quite as beautiful, but I would not be standing here before you today."
Under BSC's request, $12.5 million would come from ARPA funds, $17.5 million from the state of Alabama, $5 million from the city of Birmingham, and $2.5 million from Jefferson County.
The government bailout is necessary "in order to allow sufficient time for this fundraising effort to succeed and to give BSC breathing room to operate, we are seeking a one-time contribution," according to BSC's press release in December.
BSC stated in December they had raised $45 million from private donors towards their fundraising goal of $200 million by May 2026.
Jefferson County Commission President Jimmie Stephens told 1819 News in December that giving BSC millions in taxpayer dollars would be a "very slippery slope that we would have difficulty retreating from."
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