Birmingham-Southern College to Close May 2024

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Michael Burgos, Mar 30, 2024.

  1. Michael Burgos

    Michael Burgos Active Member

    Another historic liberal arts institution is closing its doors. This school was founded in 1856. We're indeed seeing the tidal wave of change in higher ed.
    tadj likes this.
  2. b4cz28

    b4cz28 Active Member

    Indeed sad but in reality it's another bloated school full of tenured professors with a top heave admin. On top of a expansive campus they couldn't afford or up keep. Oh don't forget the athletic programs! This school cost $40,000 a year!!!! That's $160,000 for a bachelor's

    Oh and the athletics program burning through millions a year with hundreds of student athletes on full ride scholarships? Feilding dozens of different teams?

    Also, literally no online programs?

    This was an easy fix, sell off part of the campus, cut athletics down to a few teams, start multiple low cost online programs to be taught by professors already on staff.

    Did they even bring anyone in to turn this around? I bet we have people right here on this board that could have made it happen. The name alone is worth a lot, moving to an online heavy model with a smaller on campus footprint could have saved the school. Just from looking at the numbers if they cut a lot of non essential programs and staff, closed athletics then it didn't have to go this way.
    Suss and Rachel83az like this.
  3. Jonathan Whatley

    Jonathan Whatley Well-Known Member

    Surprisingly gripping financial and political drama on their Info for News Media page, where they describe how attempts to provide bridge financing while the college would rebuild its endowment were championed by Alabama state legislative leaders, but stymied first by the state treasurer and ultimately by the lack of enough votes in the legislature to push the funding through.
  4. b4cz28

    b4cz28 Active Member

    I honestly would have denied the loan as well. This is one hell of a delusional school run by administrations that had zero business operating a school. They burned through hundreds of millions is less than ten years and were building multi million dollar projects to this very day. They legit could keep the school open if they wanted to, but are not willing to do anything to make that happen.
    Suss and Rachel83az like this.
  5. Jonathan Whatley

    Jonathan Whatley Well-Known Member

    Until its dying breath, despite years of financial trouble – it's still a nationally-ranked liberal arts college, US News #135 out of 211 in that category.

    Some of the "bloat" not strictly necessary to deliver a solid college education is probably table stakes to participate in the category of the market they're in.

    Sticker price doesn't tell us much among B&M liberal arts colleges. "More than two-thirds of first-year students qualify for scholarships based on their scholarly achievement and extracurricular record." The $40,000 estimate also includes room and board, which commuter students don't pay. The $160,000 estimate further assumes no Advanced Placement which BSC accepted, and no transfer from a community college, which BSC pitched itself as friendly to.

    As an NCAA Division III school, they were prohibited from offering athletic scholarships.

    They take resources to develop and launch. And the experience of financially troubled schools adding programs in partnerships with online program management companies doesn't assure success. Concordia University Portland's relationship with an OPM appears to have led to a death spiral ending in the university closing in 2020. Cabrini University announced in February 2023 it would introduce new online programs with edX. The next month Cabrini University announced it would close entirely.

    Their campus, in or near downtown Birmingham, Alabama, is not necessarily easily subdivisible into lots zoned for and attractive to development.

    Their athletics program appears to be less costly than you were thinking. The DIII athletics probably played some part in attracting qualified students which helped maintain their ranking, and in attracting donors. Their approach to surviving and turning around relied on raising donations, and to some extent on getting donors to remove restrictions on previously restricted donations. Remember too that their market is Alabama!
  6. b4cz28

    b4cz28 Active Member

    No they do offer scholarships, they have a grandfathered program. They have also had offers to purchase parts of their campus before by local developers. Dozens of schools have found success in offering online programs and they are not that hard to get off the ground. Their athletics program cost them millions a year for a fact. That's just based off of a staff of dozens of employees directly related to athletics programs. Not even adding up travel expenses (1.3 million per their 2022 tax statement) and other overhead. The university owns dozens of beautiful homes used for fraternities and sororities. Those alone could be sold for millions. My point is instead of just closing it all down something could be done, they just don't want to for some reason.

    Reading some financial statement from them I truly don't believe that they should get that loan, zero chance they could pay it back.
    How do they pay retiries now?
    sideman and Jonathan Whatley like this.
  7. AsianStew

    AsianStew Moderator Staff Member

    Not a surprise, most schools I've indicated in previous threads that closed were 'older' than the norm...
    We'll see more consolidations, closures, and the works until these institutions find ways to survive...
    b4cz28 likes this.
  8. Jonathan Whatley

    Jonathan Whatley Well-Known Member

    I hope remaining assets, especially the sale of the whole campus, will take care of retirees.

    My challenges come from respect. I like the energy with which you've plotted a turnaround, and I'd have suggested some similar measures if they'd asked me.

    Yet, their entire business was being a national liberal arts college with markers like DIII sports and Greek life, all bachelor's, all on-campus, near all traditional-age. Make significant cuts to inputs related to that, you risk your ranking and reputation among prospective students and your donor base, and now both your core business and your new expansion into online education may be on shakier ground.
    b4cz28 likes this.
  9. b4cz28

    b4cz28 Active Member

    So I have been thinking about this and reading up on it. There has to be more to this story, someone is set to get rich from this deal. I was in their student discord reading, an apparently they feel like this school is being tanked on purpose. Lavish spending and parties till the end, millions spend on events, new carpet in the dorms, it just goes on and on. They are painting on campus rn! These people running this school are acting as if the ship still is floating.

    No negative news stories to be found? No reporters even looking into this school?
  10. b4cz28

    b4cz28 Active Member

Share This Page