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Alabama A&M at Birmingham: State’s largest HBCU prepared to acquire Birmingham-Southern campus

Alabama A&M University is prepared to acquire the campus of soon-to-be shuttered Birmingham-Southern College.

According to Shannon Reeves, Alabama A&M vice president of government affairs and external relations, officials from the university have been contemplating the potential purchase for more than a year.

Reeves said A&M’s top administrators have been involved in the assessment phase of a potential acquisition of BSC’s campus in west Birmingham. As it stands after unsuccessful attempts in the 2023 and 2024 legislative sessions, BSC’s campus and facilities will not serve any students after the current spring semester, leaving the campus dormant. 

According to Reeves, A&M’s vision for acquisition of BSC could serve 1,000 students as early as the fall 2025 semester – with the goal of serving over 3,500 within five years. 

“A&M is the largest HBCU (Historically Black College and University) in the state. Over 6,600 students, we have the largest freshman class in the history of the university this year, over 2,000 in our freshman class right now – and we have 3,300 beds for campus housing,” he said in an interview with Yellowhammer News. “Because of the demand and student population, our Student Affairs division is currently leasing three apartment buildings right now to house nearly 1,000 students because our enrollment has outpaced our on-campus housing. 

“Alabama A&M is on the move, the demand is high.” 

Given roughly 10% of A&M’s student population comes from Birmingham, and that Jefferson County is home to the largest base of A&M alumni, the connection between the local community and A&M’s vision for a standalone campus there is straightforward, Reeves said. 

RELATED: Birmingham-Southern College to officially close

“I think it’s significant what we’re trying to do – and the fact that we have the ability to do it from where we are today,” Reeves said. “I think it speaks to the strength of where we are right now as an institution.”

The acquisition would also bring with it a range of economic development opportunities to revitalize BSC’s campus and the surrounding areas in a way that arises uniquely from student populations on a vibrant university campus. 

“Imagine if we’re full time in Jefferson County,” Reeves said. “Again, 10% of our students come from Birmingham right now. And we’re up here. Imagine having that campus, being in that market, where we can have a year-round relationship with high schools, host AAU tournaments on campus, having STEM camps on campus, introducing kids to science, imagine the things we could do with adult education classes in the evening, certificate programs to help people get certificates to help them get better suited for the workforce down there.”

According to a statement from BSC, “Birmingham-Southern College is having conversations with several interested parties about the sale of the campus.”

With the Alabama Senate to take up the 2025 education trust fund budget this week and only five days remaining in the 2024 state legislative session, lawmakers would be hard pressed to solidify a significant step toward Alabama A&M, or any other public university, acquiring the BSC campus during this year’s budget process. 

However, Reeves said Alabama A&M administrators and stakeholders have done their due diligence in communicating their intentions to lawmakers – and the conversation will continue as the university makes the case they are best positioned to generate value for all involved. 

Grayson Everett is the state and political editor for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @Grayson270

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