Alabama HBCUs Seek To Buy Birmingham-Southern College

A potential battle for the purchase of Birmingham-Southern College (BSC) ensues from Alabama HBCUs. Alabama A&M University hopes to independently acquire the school while a group of other colleges aim to purchase it together.

As BSC closes on May 31, Miles College leads the effort for other schools to join their purchasing group. State senator Merika Coleman spoke on the plan during a legislative session on May 2, as reported by Miles College President Bobbie Knight began the talks with other HBCU leaders, as revealed by Coleman in an interview.

“I actually met with President Knight of Miles College and her government affairs team,” Coleman said, who serves as a political science professor at the college. “They have spoken with all the HBCU presidents, and that’s the two-year and the four-year. What I’m told is everybody wants to come together and use their collective resources to be able to purchase the college itself. Of course you’ve got to have money to sustain it.”

However, Alabama A&M has put its solo hat in the ring to purchase the school’s campus. They intend to gain state funding for the measure. Unfortunately for them, lawmakers are not in a rush to approve as they finalize the state’s education budget.

“I think there’s a prospect, yes,” expressed State Senator Arthur Orr. “And I would certainly advocate an institution like A&M to be able to purchase it. But the timing was not good.”

The Republican lawmaker continued, “It would be a heavy lift to make that appropriation in addition to thinking down the road, OK, if you do own the campus, the increased O&M (operations and maintenance) that it would cost to maintain that campus and to offer programs, classes, etc., there. That would be a long term commitment that we would have to make in the budget for that.”

If either purchase goes through, the sale would be historic for an HBCU to purchase the campus of a predominately white institution. However, Orr also warned that the accomplishment would come with a huge financial burden.

“A&M is a state institution and has well over a 100-year track record. And I think it would certainly be beneficial to the city of Birmingham and the state for that campus to remain educational in focus, to be a real lighthouse for the community, imparting education to students near and far. And that would be a good thing,” explained the Alabama politician. “But once you own it, you have to maintain it and sustain it and fill it full of professors and the maintenance folks and people to keep the campus up, etc. The costs go up as well. So we just need that full plan.”

BSC will close following its own denied request for a $30 million state loan to continue its operations. Its vice president of communication stated that no “definitive agreement” with any buyer has been solidified,

“BSC continues to have fruitful conversations with several potential buyers, but has not entered into a definitive agreement with anyone at this time.”

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