Birmingham-Southern College

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Birmingham-Southern College (BSC) is a 4-year, private liberal arts college in the College Hills neighborhood of western Birmingham. Founded in 1856, it is affiliated with the United Methodist Church. As of 2005 there are approximately 1500 students from 30 states and 23 foreign countries. Birmingham-Southern is in the top tier of National Liberal Arts Colleges in U.S. News & World Report's America's Best Colleges 2005, the highest tier a liberal arts college can attain in the annual rankings, and is the highest ranked liberal arts college in Alabama. The College also is recognized by the John Templeton Foundation Honor Roll as one of 100 schools nationwide that emphasize character-building as an integral part of the college experience; as among the 100 "Colleges Worth Considering" compiled by Washington Post staff writer Jay Mathews; as one of "America's Best Christian Colleges" by Institutional Research and Evaluation Inc.; as one of the nation's top 30 colleges by The Washington Times; and as one of The Princeton Review's Best 357 Colleges.

Birmingham-Southern is one of only six baccalaureate-liberal arts institutions in the country so classified by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching to hold both AACSB International—The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business accreditation—and the designation of Phi Beta Kappa. Each year, Birmingham-Southern ranks #1 in Alabama and among the nation's best in percentage of all graduates accepted to medical, dental, or health-career programs; the college also ranks high nationally in graduates accepted to law school.


Munger Hall, with administrative offices and a large auditorium, was completed in 1928

Birmingham-Southern College is the result of a merger of Southern University, founded in Greensboro, Alabama, in 1856, with Birmingham College (also called Owenton College, which opened in 1898 in Birmingham's Owenton neighborhood (today's Bush Hills). These two institutions were consolidated on May 30, 1918, under the name of Birmingham-Southern College.

In 1824, the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church recommended that each conference establish a seminary of learning under its regulation and patronage. Not until 1854 did the Alabama Conference undertake to carry out this recommendation of the superior body. In that year, a committee was appointed to select a site for the proposed college and to procure funds for its establishment and maintenance. The charter was granted by the State of Alabama on January 25, 1856, and the first meeting of the Board of Trustees was held on March 17, 1856; January 25 is therefore known as Charter Day for the College, and March 17 has been designated as Founder’s Day.

After the State was divided into two Methodist conferences, the North Alabama Conference, in 1883, joined with the Alabama Conference in the support of Southern University.

At the session of the North Alabama Conference held at Tuscaloosa in November 1896, work was begun toward establishing a college within the bounds of this conference. In the fall of 1897, the foundation for the first building was laid in Birmingham. In April 1898, a president was elected and a faculty was chosen and organized. The Conference then surrendered its interest in Southern University and, in September 1898, the North Alabama Conference College (later named Birmingham College) opened its doors to students.

For twenty years the two colleges were maintained by the Methodists of Alabama. Finally, on May 30, 1918, through their appointed commissioners, the two conferences consolidated these institutions under the name of Birmingham-Southern College. With no loss of time from the regular work at either place, the consolidation was effected, and the new institution opened its doors in Birmingham on September 11, 1918. Since that time, Birmingham-Southern College has grown rapidly and is now a fully accredited institution in every way.

Birmingham-Southern has consistently sought academic distinction. In 1937, its standards were recognized by the nation’s leading academic honor society, Phi Beta Kappa, which granted the College a charter to establish Alabama Beta.


The wooded 192 acre (780,000 m²) campus is located three miles (5 km) west of Downtown Birmingham. There are 45 buildings in all, and 25 of them have been renovated since 1976. There are many new facilties since 1998 including the Striplin Fitness Center, Norton Campus Center, the recently completed Elton B. Stephens Science Center of 100,000 square feet (9,000 m²), and the fraternity row. Under the leadership of President Dr. G. David Pollick, construction on a new lake, The Falls, as well as an Admissions House are expected to be completed by the end of the 2006-2007 academic year.

National Honor Societies

Birmingham-Southern is a sheltering institution for a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa and is home to 20 other honorary or professional societies in various academic areas. The college established a new chapter of the business honorary Beta Gamma Sigma in 2003, joining 375 other schools, all accredited in business through AACSB International—The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, that honor top students by inducting them into lifetime membership in the society. Birmingham-Southern is one of only six baccalaureate-liberal arts institutions in the country to hold both AACSB International accreditation and the designation of Phi Beta Kappa and one of only six to hold Phi Beta Kappa and house a Beta Gamma Sigma chapter.

The Honor Council

The Honor Code established an Honor Council composed of 15 students as selected by the Student Government Association. This Council is in charge of hearing cases concerning the three tenets of lying, cheating, and stealing upon which the Code was built. Any honor violations governing student behavior or academic violations are brought before the Honor Council. Students must recognize the Council’s role of upholding the Honor Code as they enter the College by signing and agreeing to uphold the Code. While the role of students in maintaining the Honor Code is crucial, the ultimate responsibility for campus governance rests with the President of The College and other designated administrators as delegated by the Board of Trustees.

Academic calendar

There are two semesters and an interim term in January. This is a period spanning four weeks that allows students to explore their interest in creative activities. It is a process of intensive and experiential learning.



See main article: BSC Panthers

In the spring of 2006, the college's board of directors decided to move all athletic programs from the scholarship-driven NCAA Division I to the non-scholarship Division III. The college's application to join the Division III Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference was approved by a vote of league presidents on June 7, 2006. A transition period of several years is expected before BSC will become a full member of the conference. On June 15, 2006, Athletic Director Joe Dean, Jr announced that, owing to the number of scholarship athletes transferring elsewhere, BSC would not field teams in baseball or men's basketball for the 2006-07 academic year, meaning that for these sports, Division I participation was over.

Construction for Birmingham-Southern's new athletic complex began in February 2007. Land was cleared for the complex across from the BSC Softball Complex. The stadium features state-of-the-art artificial turf with an eight lane regulation track surrounding the field. An athletic building was constructed and includes a press box, coach’s offices, meeting rooms, an athletic training room, official’s dressing room and locker rooms for football, lacrosse, track and field, and cross country.


Birmingham-Southern first fielded a football team in 1918, coached by Baby Haynes. Charlie Brown coached the team from 1919 to 1923. Harold "Red" Drew was coach from 1924-1927. The all-time winningest coach in BSC history, Jenks Gillem led the Panthers to a 51-43-8 record in 12 seasons (1928 to 1939).

After an almost seven decade absence, the Panthers fielded their first football team in 2007. Former Alabama Crimson Tide and Birmingham Stallions reciever Joey Jones was named the head football coach in 2006, after a successful high school coaching career. Jones built the team from scratch for the 2007 season. The Panthers went 1-7 in varsity play, and 2-0 in junior varsity games, with a team made up primarily of freshman and sophomore players. Jones left the program on February 14, 2008, accepting the first head coach position for the University of South Alabama. Assistant coach Eddie Garfinkle was tapped to lead the Panthers for the 2008 season.

Notable alumni


Birmingham-Southern has a 12:1 student to faculty ratio, and of the full-time members of the faculty, more than 92 percent hold either a doctoral degree or the highest degree in their field.

Dr Charles Norman Mason, composer and Birmingham-Southern College professor of music, was awarded the prestigious Samuel Barber Rome Prize in Musical Composition during ceremonies April 14, 2006 in New York City.

Points of interest

Birmingham-Southern has documented four sites on its campus with the Council of Independent Colleges "Historic Campus Architecture Project". These include the Birmingham-Southern Academic Quad, Birmingham-Southern President's House, the Simpson Building, and the Stockham Woman's Building.

The Southern Environmental Center is an environmental educational facility located on the campus of Birmingham-Southern College. Each year, hundreds of school children tour the facility's Interactive Museum and EcoScape.


  • Brown, Donald A. (2005) Forward, Ever:Birmingham-Southern College at its Sesquicentennial.
  • "Birmingham-Southern College", Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia 11:59UTC, 21 September 2006 [1]

External links