The State of Alabama could not provide a loan to financially distressed Birmingham-Southern College (BSC), but they have made it clear they can buy. 

In May 2024, Alabama A&M, a state school (funded with state money) tendered a $52 million offer to purchase BSC. In early June, A&M submitted their second offer, which will reportedly eliminate the entirety of BSC’s debt. Miles College, which has long coveted BSC’s campus, also submitted an offer. 

Ironic, isn’t it? The State of Alabama could not lend BSC the funds it needed to stay alive in the form of a loan (not a gift or investment, but a loan to be paid back with interest, yielding profit to the state), but they are willing, via the “proxy” of Alabama A&M (a state school), to buy BSC out from under its failed self. 

From the state’s self-interested perspective, it certainly makes sense. Why bail out private little BSC and allow the elite liberal arts college to get back on its feet when it could simply let BSC fade into oblivion and purchase the school, adding another Birmingham-based school to the state-school system? 

Damning duplicity and sinister schemes seem to be the tale of BSC’s tragedy. 

Who’s to blame?

Alabama State Treasurer Young Boozer is certainly culpable for the BSC calamity. He is, after all, the man who cemented BSC’s fatal fate by withholding the lifeboat loan BSC needed to stay afloat. He is the man standing over BSC’s smoldering corpse holding the smoking gun. 

The roots of BSC’s ruin, however, run much deeper than the 21st century. Many other hands held the gun long before Boozer put BSC out of its misery. 

BSC had no room for error, yet many, many errors were made. With proper vigilance, these mistakes could have been avoided. 

Do we also have malfeasance at play here?

If such egregious negligence and flagrant mismanagement by the BSC board and executives were to sink, say, a large, for-profit corporation, the company’s shareholders would not let the people who tanked the business off the hook so easy. 

As a domestic nonprofit corporation with a registered agent who had been fired in 2016, short-term BSC President Ed Leonard III, BSC isn't technically a corporation, but you get the picture. 

Various incompetent BSC administrators and neglectful, asleep-at-the-wheel board members certainly meet a culpable criterion of flippant disregard in performing their fiduciary and legal duties. 

Dr. David Pollick, BSC president from 2004-2010, who many are publicly shaming and blaming for BSC’s ruin, shared the following with, providing insight into mismanagement prior to Pollick’s arrival: 

There was a financial crisis that was embedded in the university that preceded me and has never been brought into the light of day. I doubt it ever will. My response to it bore significant fruit, and in many ways secured BSC’s future, in spite of the financial problems that I and the Board later discovered.

Most people blame Pollick for BSC’s collapse; others blame Boozer. The seemingly faceless, out-of-the-spotlight personages of BSC’s bloated board, with whom the buck stops, often escape intense scrutiny. 

Looking at the forensic financial record of BSC shows a continuous, willful neglect of fiduciary responsibility by the board resulting in irreparable damage to the school. 

Alumni could certainly make a compelling case that the BSC board has demonstrated a deliberate misconduct in discharging their fiduciary, legal duties overseeing the school’s operations and furthering its best interests. Indeed, BSC’s financial jeopardy over the last half-century was not represented to us when we enrolled. In fact, this information was deliberately hidden from us.

Would we still have enrolled knowing the school was struggling, writhing on its financial deathbed?

Yes, most of us would do it all over again and not change a thing. That is how special BSC is.

Despite crooks, hacks and haphazard, half-witted decisions dooming our beautiful, beloved Hilltop, we are, as the Idina Menzel song says, which was played at BSC’s Farewell Ceremony (eliciting an expansive outpouring of tears from the audience, including myself): “I do believe I have been changed for the better, and because I knew you… I have been changed for good.”

Since we will never have BSC back we will, in the interim, settle for answers.

It is telling, though not widely known, that after Dr. Neal Berte resigned as BSC President in 2004 following the exposure of pervasive financial mismanagement to the BSC board, the board’s first order of business, before trying to right the sinking ship, was to double its E&O liability insurance policy.

Why would the board double down on its E&O insurance? The answer is simple - to cover themselves from potential legal liability resultant of their fiduciary irresponsibility and neglect in properly managing BSC.  

We, the proud, pained alumni of our beloved alma mater, want our school back more than we yearn for the doling out of justice to the men and women who condemned our college. Sure, we would find absolute delight in seeing the individuals who destroyed BSC have their feet put to the fire. A settlement check is also a nice thing to receive any day of the week. 

But this isn’t about getting even. This isn’t about money. Money, and the greed and mismanagement attendant to it, is what imperiled BSC in the first place.

This is about preserving the pure, priceless memory of our wonderful alma mater, an idyllic, 168-year multigenerational tapestry of innocence, knowledge, dreams, truth, and love. BSC’s lovely legacy does not deserve to be corrupted by the callous, foolish, fraudulent actions of ugly men. 

BSC’s legacy deserves better. We deserve better. 

Let’s start with the truth - the total, unflinching, beautiful, barefaced truth. 

Once we have that and the “truth will out,” once the damnation and deceit have been exposed for what they are, once we can see past the shroud of secrets and pull back the curtain we can continue the march for justice for our betrayed BSC. 

Our only bias should be to the truth. Only the truth shall set us free. 

Works cited: Birmingham-Southern College – My View

Conner (CR) Hayes is a small business owner based in Nashville, Tennessee. He is a 2017 alum of Birmingham-Southern College and a screenwriter, novelist, and poet. CR Hayes is published in various mediums, including academic articles, journalism, prose, and poetry.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to

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