Birmingham-Southern College closing May 31 as loan bill fails to gain support: ‘This is a tragic day’

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PeteRasche
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Re: Birmingham-Southern College closing May 31 as loan bill fails to gain support: ‘This is a tragic day’

Unread post by PeteRasche »

My wife's alma mater; she's heartbroken. I've written about them more than once here, for two different reasons. Last time I will.

1. After great success in NAIA in athletics for years, they moved directly to D1 in the early 2000s. In the first year, their hoops team won the Big South and should have gone dancing, but sat home because of the "transitional period". Other sports, such as baseball, for some reason did not have that period, and in their first D1 year, made the NCAA tournament (they'd been NAIA national champs in baseball the year before the jump and had most players return). So every time some new-to-D1 G5 is looking like a possible NY6 or NCAA contender and social media gets all up in arms about the unfairness of the transitional period, I'd always have to plug how BSC did it years ago. They just were before the social media era... :wink:

2. Shortly after the jump, they got a new school president. He decided D1 athletics were not worthwhile for an academic institution, and they made the decision to drop back to D3 (entirely non-scholarship). No warning was given; they called a press conference with all athletics teams, coaches, etc., present and announced it. As you'd expect, it didn't go over well (shock, anger, etc.). Almost every coach resigned and either retired or sought jobs elsewhere (I believe their baseball coach ended up at UAB?). Every halfway-decent player in most sports transferred to a school with scholarships. The first few years in D3 were like startup franchises with ragtag rosters of a few straggling holdovers (the worse ones), walk-ons, and freshmen. Obviously you can see why I've cited this story here, as BSC became what Scott Cowen ALMOST made Tulane, had word not leaked out about The Review in 2003.

So all of that said, turns out the same president that dropped the school to D3 also horribly mismanaged their finances, and left them in a massive hole they've been trying to recover from for well over a decade... and they finally realized they couldn't.

Any of you who have attended a Tulane football game at UAB (at Legion Field) have likely driven past their campus. It's in an old area west of downtown (just off of I-59/I-20), between the highway exit and the stadium. The neighborhood was once very nice (hence the legendary stadium being nearby) but fell into disrepair and disregard a long time ago. The college became a gated school, with all housing, Greek living, and social activities on campus. There was strong encouragement to not leave at night by car, and nobody dared walk off campus on foot. Some people online are saying safety has something to do with the school closing, but that is not the truth, as the students were very safe on campus (small school of 1400 students, strong campus security presence, almost literally everyone knew each other, including faculty, and said security).

Other connections to interesting things regarding hoops:
- their basketball coach during their great run (multiple NAIA national championships in the 90s, and the successful leap to D1) was Duane Reboul, legendary former coach at Jesuit in New Orleans, who also had played for UNO in college. He retired when they dropped to D3 and he lost his team. My wife actually did stats for the team as a work study job and traveled to the national finals with them one year. She loved Coach Reboul.

- one of the players on their first D1 team was Bucky McMillan, current hot coach at Samford, who just made the tourney and almost beat Kansas. I've been watching him a while if a certain other team were to need a new basketball coach (he surprisingly has not been stolen away from Samford yet and just signed an extension... which likely means he'd be available, oh, say, next March or so...)
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Re: Birmingham-Southern College closing May 31 as loan bill fails to gain support: ‘This is a tragic day’

Unread post by WaveProf »

When I was first on the job market, not even quite dissertation in hand, really not ready for the job market at all, I somehow got an interview with Birmingham Southern. We wanted the gig because it was in a region we wanted to be in, and were sad when I didn't get it. Now I'm realizing how lucky I was, I'd be looking for a new profession this year on no notice.

I feel bad for the students, particularly the seniors who may have to re-take some junior level classes when they transfer (hopefully some regional schools will make exceptions for hours on campus like people did for students wanting to transfer out of Tulane post--K???) but I truly feel bad for the faculty. With the exception of 2 or 3 extremely lucky ducks who may get picked up regionally by someone feeling bad for them, most tenure track and tenured faculty will never work in academia again, or at least not outside of a few adjunct classes for extra money while they figure out what they are going to do.

I realize why they waited till March to announce---the financial shape would have been even worse if rats started leaving the ship last summer or Christmas----but it's really bad timing for students (late to get on the transfer circuit) and excruciatingly bad for faculty......essentially too late for 98% of academic jobs next year, and with the current academic job market, the only (slim) chance these people would have had would have been to get a job somewhere without sitting out a year.
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Re: Birmingham-Southern College closing May 31 as loan bill fails to gain support: ‘This is a tragic day’

Unread post by tulaneoutlaw »

WaveProf wrote: Wed Apr 03, 2024 3:11 pm I feel bad for the students, particularly the seniors who may have to re-take some junior level classes when they transfer (hopefully some regional schools will make exceptions for hours on campus like people did for students wanting to transfer out of Tulane post--K???) but I truly feel bad for the faculty. With the exception of 2 or 3 extremely lucky ducks who may get picked up regionally by someone feeling bad for them, most tenure track and tenured faculty will never work in academia again, or at least not outside of a few adjunct classes for extra money while they figure out what they are going to do.

I realize why they waited till March to announce---the financial shape would have been even worse if rats started leaving the ship last summer or Christmas----but it's really bad timing for students (late to get on the transfer circuit) and excruciatingly bad for faculty......essentially too late for 98% of academic jobs next year, and with the current academic job market, the only (slim) chance these people would have had would have been to get a job somewhere without sitting out a year.
You may be familiar with Virginia Intermont given where you are from. It's now defunct and has been for a few years but when they made the decision to close, I believe they had a deal for students partway down a path to finish up at King University as the university of record. Far from ideal, but at least they made the transition workable for students. Maybe BSC will do the same. The path forward for staff seems bleak based on your description.
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Re: Birmingham-Southern College closing May 31 as loan bill fails to gain support: ‘This is a tragic day’

Unread post by PeteRasche »

BSC indicated in their public announcement that they'd be working with numerous universities to set up the current students to continue. I know Huntingdon College (another religious-based small private school, in Montgomery, AL) has offered to help, I saw a social media post to that effect.
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Re: Birmingham-Southern College closing May 31 as loan bill fails to gain support: ‘This is a tragic day’

Unread post by waverider »

Today I saw a headline with a brief synopsis of an article about millennials regretting their decision to go to college and more are opting to go into blue collar careers. I wonder if we will see more small, private schools having trouble staying open. (I don’t know, but guessing that these are more degree specific schools that could still serve a purpose).

On a side note, there are days I wonder if I would have been better off learning a trade or other necessary skill. But then there are days when it’s 95 degrees outside or poring rain and I am happy to need a light jacket because of the a/c in my office!
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Re: Birmingham-Southern College closing May 31 as loan bill fails to gain support: ‘This is a tragic day’

Unread post by PeteRasche »

waverider wrote: Thu Apr 04, 2024 6:59 pm On a side note, there are days I wonder if I would have been better off learning a trade or other necessary skill. But then there are days when it’s 95 degrees outside or poring rain and I am happy to need a light jacket because of the a/c in my office!
The irony being, of course, that the air conditioning was installed by, and is likely maintained by, people who opted for trade schools.

I can tell you from experience that the trades (especially construction in general) are suffering from an incredible shortage since COVID. People who worked those jobs (where remote work isn't possible) had to find new careers and many haven't come back. Pre-COVID we'd have projects where the construction manager with the general contractor was in his 50s or so, had 25-30 years in the biz and had lead mechanical and electrical subs who were about the same. Projects would go smoothly because they knew how to do things and didn't have to stop everything and ask questions or get clarifications from us engineers. Now we're seeing 9-figure projects with project managers who are barely 30 and have 5-8 years experience, because they're literally the oldest and most-experienced guy at the company. And don't even ask about the workers for those companies, who, if they haven't failed a drug test and been let go (or simply not shown up because of their drug problem), are in their early 20s, have maybe a year or three of experience, and may or may not speak English. Just from jobs I've worked on in the past 4 years, I'd estimate the average age of a construction worker for reputable companies (steel work, carpentry, HVAC, plumbing, electrical) has probably dropped by at least 5 years, maybe more.

Long story short, I hope young folks do have a resurgence of going into the trades. Heck, a good electrician or plumber can easily make 6 figures these days just by showing up every day, being clean-cut and reliable and having more than 5-10 years of experience.
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Re: Birmingham-Southern College closing May 31 as loan bill fails to gain support: ‘This is a tragic day’

Unread post by GretnaGrn »

PeteRasche wrote: Thu Apr 04, 2024 10:12 pm
waverider wrote: Thu Apr 04, 2024 6:59 pm On a side note, there are days I wonder if I would have been better off learning a trade or other necessary skill. But then there are days when it’s 95 degrees outside or poring rain and I am happy to need a light jacket because of the a/c in my office!
The irony being, of course, that the air conditioning was installed by, and is likely maintained by, people who opted for trade schools.

I can tell you from experience that the trades (especially construction in general) are suffering from an incredible shortage since COVID. People who worked those jobs (where remote work isn't possible) had to find new careers and many haven't come back. Pre-COVID we'd have projects where the construction manager with the general contractor was in his 50s or so, had 25-30 years in the biz and had lead mechanical and electrical subs who were about the same. Projects would go smoothly because they knew how to do things and didn't have to stop everything and ask questions or get clarifications from us engineers. Now we're seeing 9-figure projects with project managers who are barely 30 and have 5-8 years experience, because they're literally the oldest and most-experienced guy at the company. And don't even ask about the workers for those companies, who, if they haven't failed a drug test and been let go (or simply not shown up because of their drug problem), are in their early 20s, have maybe a year or three of experience, and may or may not speak English. Just from jobs I've worked on in the past 4 years, I'd estimate the average age of a construction worker for reputable companies (steel work, carpentry, HVAC, plumbing, electrical) has probably dropped by at least 5 years, maybe more.

Long story short, I hope young folks do have a resurgence of going into the trades. Heck, a good electrician or plumber can easily make 6 figures these days just by showing up every day, being clean-cut and reliable and having more than 5-10 years of experience.
My brother in law is a plumber who owns his own company and this is his constant lament; he cannot find plumbers, or even plumbers assistants, who are reliable at any salary. Drugs are a big problem in the trades, but lack of folks entering is an even bigger one.

Oh, and he's younger than me and makes far more than most lawyers I know, even with these headaches. He goes out on jobs still because he likes his job (and can't find enough folks qualified for big new construction projects), but he certainly could sit in his air-conditioned building if he really wanted to.
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Re: Birmingham-Southern College closing May 31 as loan bill fails to gain support: ‘This is a tragic day’

Unread post by ml wave »

waverider wrote: Thu Apr 04, 2024 6:59 pm Today I saw a headline with a brief synopsis of an article about millennials regretting their decision to go to college and more are opting to go into blue collar careers. I wonder if we will see more small, private schools having trouble staying open. (I don’t know, but guessing that these are more degree specific schools that could still serve a purpose).

On a side note, there are days I wonder if I would have been better off learning a trade or other necessary skill. But then there are days when it’s 95 degrees outside or poring rain and I am happy to need a light jacket because of the a/c in my office!
Aren't millennials in their 30s now?
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Re: Birmingham-Southern College closing May 31 as loan bill fails to gain support: ‘This is a tragic day’

Unread post by tulaneoutlaw »

waverider wrote: Thu Apr 04, 2024 6:59 pm Today I saw a headline with a brief synopsis of an article about millennials regretting their decision to go to college and more are opting to go into blue collar careers. I wonder if we will see more small, private schools having trouble staying open. (I don’t know, but guessing that these are more degree specific schools that could still serve a purpose).

On a side note, there are days I wonder if I would have been better off learning a trade or other necessary skill. But then there are days when it’s 95 degrees outside or poring rain and I am happy to need a light jacket because of the a/c in my office!
There is a looming demographic cliff that's going to press small private universities even more than they already are. I look for that to do some winnowing of that group. There simply aren't as many 18 year Olds as there were 15 years ago, regardless of post secondary pathway chosen
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Re: Birmingham-Southern College closing May 31 as loan bill fails to gain support: ‘This is a tragic day’

Unread post by Roller »

I followed the odyssey of Sweetbriar College in Virginia" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweet_Briar_College) in 2015. They were brought right to the brink of closing, but an organized protest and several lawsuits managed to stave off closure, and the college remains open a decade later.
I haven't kept up with the story for a few years, but I found it interesting how a college can close "just like that."
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Re: Birmingham-Southern College closing May 31 as loan bill fails to gain support: ‘This is a tragic day’

Unread post by WaveProf »

Roller wrote: Fri Apr 05, 2024 7:37 pm I followed the odyssey of Sweetbriar College in Virginia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweet_Briar_College) in 2015. They were brought right to the brink of closing, but an organized protest and several lawsuits managed to stave off closure, and the college remains open a decade later.
I haven't kept up with the story for a few years, but I found it interesting how a college can close "just like that."
I dated two different girls from Sweetbriar while in college. It was a small, but good, engineering school for women, with strong humanities courses to get a minor in (rare for engineering schools), and a moderately wealthy and giving alumni base. When small single sex schools starting hurting in the 90s and 00s, they tried to pivot to be a humanities school, ignoring the fact that every single other all female school in the region was a humanities school, and it was taking away what made them unique. Engineering is too expensive was the thought process of the university president. Well, maybe, but it was also what made Sweetbriar Sweetbriar. Alumni stopped donating (mad at the deemphisis on engineering), enrollment dwindled further (if you are looking for an all girls liberal arts school in virginia, why not choose one of the ones that already excels at that?) and they were on the brink. A lawsuit, a cash campaign, and a new president brough a re-emphisis on engineering, and my understanding is they are doing pretty well again.

Long winded way of saying, back to Pete, that what really "kills" these small schools is mismanagement and bad leadership from UP's who are part of the neoliberal corporate university think tank and have so much control (and huge salaries). All of the demographic problems Outlaw and Rider suggest are indeed happening, and are putting pressure on all of these schools (small publics too), but so far, it isn't able to kill any that don't make stupid decisions. What that pressure *does* do, however, is make the consequence of hiring the wrong President fatal, rather than a big deal to overcome.

Loyola New Orleans came a lot closer to closing a decade or so ago than most realize or anyone wants to admit. The Prez they hired who has since left for Fordham, put them on a path that saved their a--.
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Re: Birmingham-Southern College closing May 31 as loan bill fails to gain support: ‘This is a tragic day’

Unread post by WaveProf »

tulaneoutlaw wrote: Thu Apr 04, 2024 1:14 pm

You may be familiar with Virginia Intermont given where you are from. It's now defunct and has been for a few years but when they made the decision to close, I believe they had a deal for students partway down a path to finish up at King University as the university of record. Far from ideal, but at least they made the transition workable for students. Maybe BSC will do the same. The path forward for staff seems bleak based on your description.
I didn't follow the closing of that as closely as I have others, but that sounds like a good path (setting up a direct connection to a nearby school).
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Re: Birmingham-Southern College closing May 31 as loan bill fails to gain support: ‘This is a tragic day’

Unread post by PeteRasche »

Coincidentally, the Sugar Bowl/Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame just announced their 2024 finalists for induction and, amidst a very impressive slate that includes Tulane's Matt Forte, Carmen Jones, and Paul Thompson**, former Birmingham Southern College basketball coach Duane Reboul is one of the finalists. As I mentioned in my post above, he starred at De La Salle and UNO, then was a hugely successful coach at Jesuit and BSC.

** how in the world are these three not already in?
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Re: Birmingham-Southern College closing May 31 as loan bill fails to gain support: ‘This is a tragic day’

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Re: Birmingham-Southern College closing May 31 as loan bill fails to gain support: ‘This is a tragic day’

Unread post by GretnaGrn »

WaveProf wrote: Sat Apr 06, 2024 11:25 am
Loyola New Orleans came a lot closer to closing a decade or so ago than most realize or anyone wants to admit. The Prez they hired who has since left for Fordham, put them on a path that saved their a--.
That was an extremely close call, and it could happen again if Loyola is not careful. The seem ok for now, but they definitely made the right hire at the right time to save themselves, which can be very hard to do. Smaller schools used to have a margin for error most times; now they very much do not.
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Re: Birmingham-Southern College closing May 31 as loan bill fails to gain support: ‘This is a tragic day’

Unread post by Sophandros »

ml wave wrote: Fri Apr 05, 2024 9:36 am
waverider wrote: Thu Apr 04, 2024 6:59 pm Today I saw a headline with a brief synopsis of an article about millennials regretting their decision to go to college and more are opting to go into blue collar careers. I wonder if we will see more small, private schools having trouble staying open. (I don’t know, but guessing that these are more degree specific schools that could still serve a purpose).

On a side note, there are days I wonder if I would have been better off learning a trade or other necessary skill. But then there are days when it’s 95 degrees outside or poring rain and I am happy to need a light jacket because of the a/c in my office!
Aren't millennials in their 30s now?
The oldest millennials are in their early 40s, since that generation started between 1980 and 1982, depending on who you ask.

"Millennial" doesn't mean "young person", just as "boomer" doesn't mean "everyone over 40".

That said, I'm content with everyone ignoring those of us who are in GenX.
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Re: Birmingham-Southern College closing May 31 as loan bill fails to gain support: ‘This is a tragic day’

Unread post by GretnaGrn »

Sophandros wrote: Thu Apr 11, 2024 2:57 pm
That said, I'm content with everyone ignoring those of us who are in GenX.
I mean, we're kinda used to it.... :lol:
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Re: Birmingham-Southern College closing May 31 as loan bill fails to gain support: ‘This is a tragic day’

Unread post by PeteRasche »

GretnaGrn wrote: Thu Apr 11, 2024 3:01 pm
Sophandros wrote: Thu Apr 11, 2024 2:57 pm
That said, I'm content with everyone ignoring those of us who are in GenX.
I mean, we're kinda used to it.... :lol:
Being ignored has kinda been our thing for... half a century or so.
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Re: Birmingham-Southern College closing May 31 as loan bill fails to gain support: ‘This is a tragic day’

Unread post by WaveProf »

PeteRasche wrote: Thu Apr 11, 2024 5:44 pm
GretnaGrn wrote: Thu Apr 11, 2024 3:01 pm
Sophandros wrote: Thu Apr 11, 2024 2:57 pm
That said, I'm content with everyone ignoring those of us who are in GenX.
I mean, we're kinda used to it.... :lol:
Being ignored has kinda been our thing for... half a century or so.
That, and self aggrandizing and obsessing (boomer style) about how much better we are because we were ignored lol


(Not directed at Pete, just my generation in general)
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Re: Birmingham-Southern College closing May 31 as loan bill fails to gain support: ‘This is a tragic day’

Unread post by waverider »

PeteRasche wrote: Thu Apr 04, 2024 10:12 pm
waverider wrote: Thu Apr 04, 2024 6:59 pm On a side note, there are days I wonder if I would have been better off learning a trade or other necessary skill. But then there are days when it’s 95 degrees outside or poring rain and I am happy to need a light jacket because of the a/c in my office!
The irony being, of course, that the air conditioning was installed by, and is likely maintained by, people who opted for trade schools.
A/C was the trade I was most interested in with electrical being another. I learned a lot about air conditioners from the guys that worked on ours when I was young. They were also the ones that told me, “cleaning coils and checking Freon is easy but you don’t want to crawl in an attic in early August”.

There’s a girl in her late 20s that just left my wife’s work because she got her welder’s license and left for better pay.
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Re: Birmingham-Southern College closing May 31 as loan bill fails to gain support: ‘This is a tragic day’

Unread post by PeteRasche »

My wife is traveling back to BSC next weekend for a big Greek weekend - apparently a lot of the Frats/Sororities are officially making all of their current members "alumni", even if not seniors. For my wife it's just going to be a huge reunion weekend with her old friends.

My bro-in-law (who knew about BSC through my wife) sent us a story this morning about the great number of colleges which are closing. Apparently it's not just BSC, but there are almost one per week shutting down these days, after last year averaging about 2 per month. They are mostly little schools that hardly anyone has heard of, and most are due to a financial hole from COVID that they never recovered from (now that the COVID aid is starting to end).

Meanwhile, BSC had a really damning article written in AL.com this past week (by a classmate of my wife, now a journalist) about all of the shady stuff that the former president** and BOA did at BSC to cause this mess. They were found out over a decade ago by a professor who did some simple investigation herself and whistle-blew (including correspondng with this journalist)... she was on the way out the door as her department (and many others) were being shuttered anyway, so she went public with it. This was what led to that president resigning and led to about 14 years worth of desperately trying to dig out of his hole.

**My wife looked up that president and discovered that he's been involved in more very questionable financial situations since, including some overseas where he was accused of getting huge payments through a third-party (to hide it) and had to resign from that job. Apparently when he resigned from BSC he was the third-highest-paid university president in America (!), which points a lot of blame on the BOA as well.
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Re: Birmingham-Southern College closing May 31 as loan bill fails to gain support: ‘This is a tragic day’

Unread post by tulaneoutlaw »

PeteRasche wrote: Sat Apr 27, 2024 5:35 pm Apparently it's not just BSC, but there are almost one per week shutting down these days, after last year averaging about 2 per month. They are mostly little schools that hardly anyone has heard of, and most are due to a financial hole from COVID that they never recovered from (now that the COVID aid is starting to end).
I expect this trend to continue. It's just simple math, very soon there won't be enough 18 year olds in classrooms to pay tuition at these smaller private schools. Well-run ones will survive as will ones that provide unique value whether via faith and community connections or by being known as a particularly good investment. The Tulanes of the world are in little danger and the big publics will be just fine. But in what I would consider my neck of the woods there are four small private colleges and it's hard for me to see all four surviving the coming enrollment cliff.
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Re: Birmingham-Southern College closing May 31 as loan bill fails to gain support: ‘This is a tragic day’

Unread post by PeteRasche »

Yep, outlaw, that article asked what would stop this trend and answered it that it will only be simply supply and demand economics. There are too many schools for the number of people looking to go to college.
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Re: Birmingham-Southern College closing May 31 as loan bill fails to gain support: ‘This is a tragic day’

Unread post by waverider »

Their baseball team has advanced to the D3 Super Regionals. They won’t even have a place to hang a banner.
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