Southeastern Bible College, 2545 Valleydale Road, announced today that it has suspended operations.
“At this time, we cannot provide a definitive time frame for a potential reopening of the college,” President Alexander Granados said in a prepared statement released Thursday, June 1. Granados took over as president in 2014.
The statement said arrangements are being made for a “teach-out” plan that will allow students to transfer to another school to complete their degrees.
“We’re not trying to put students in a bad situation,” said the Rev. Michael Wesley, chairman of the board. “We want students to be able to complete their degrees.”
I was really on the fence about whether to finish my Theology degree until my school FIRED ALL PROFESSORS AND CLOSED DOWN YESTERDAY.
— Melissa Hope Brown (@melissaisloved) June 1, 2017
About 40 faculty and staff members have resigned, retired or been released in the past month, according to a former staff member who noted enrollment had dropped to 140.
Thousands of Southeastern Bible College alumni have gone on to work in ministry and other professions around the world.
Don Hawkins, who served as president of the college from 2001-2014, issued a statement today expressing his reaction.
“Southeastern Bible College has over 80 years of focus on a vital mission: producing graduates who are Biblically grounded, spiritually mature and culturally relevant,” he wrote. “Over the years there have been financial challenges, and God has proven faithful. I am joining with many fellow alumni and friends in praying for God’s provision, and for His direction for SEBC’s president and board going forward.”
The Bible College was chartered in 1935 and started with informal evening classes; day classes began in 1946. In 1947, it moved to its first permanent facility on Pawnee Avenue in Birmingham’s Southside. When Briarwood Presbyterian Church built a new campus alongside Interstate 459, Southeastern Bible College bought the former Briarwood campus on U.S. 280 in 1988.
After the move in 1988, the Bible College sold its valuable Southside property, which was turned into luxury condominiums. The relocation breathed new life into Southeastern Bible College.
After dropping below 100 students in 1986, enrollment nearly doubled by 1995. The college moved again in 2004 to the former Valleydale Baptist Church campus on Valleydale Road. There were no student dormitories at first on the new campus, so two were built, one for men and one for women.
That led to a debt that the college has had trouble restructuring.
But the college had made announcements last year that gave the appearance the college was on solid footing and growing.
In May 2016, the college announced it was instituting a basketball program, with provisional membership in the National Christian College Athletic Association, even though there’s not a gymnasium on campus. Bill Ivey was hired as athletic director and director of operations for the team, called the Sabers. Students were granted athletic scholarships.
Ivey was one of seven new staff members hired a year ago, according to the May 2016 newsletter. That included Cheryl Ross as director of a new Center for Leadership Development.
A former employee said that as of Wednesday, only two employees remained on staff at the campus: Granados and his administrative assistant, Anita Scroggins.