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News from the Hilltop

August 28, 2012

Birmingham-Southern honored as one of “Colleges That Change Lives”

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—Birmingham-Southern College is one of just 40 schools from around the country highlighted in a new book released Tuesday, Aug. 28, that singles out colleges doing an outstanding job of educating, nurturing and transforming young men and women.Colleges that Change Lives

BSC is praised for its commitment to experiential learning, its innovative curriculum, its engagement in the community, and its “high expectations and hopes for its students,” according to the 2013 edition of “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges.”

Birmingham-Southern was included in the original book by the same name, written by New York Times education editor Loren Pope. Hoping to show students that a meaningful college search goes well beyond rankings and trends, Pope highlighted the work of 40 liberal arts colleges from around the country that were “outdoing the Ivy League schools and the major universities in producing winners.”

Just 36 of the original schools were included in the revised edition of the book.

“Their power is in how they teach. The focus is on the student, not the faculty,” author Hilary Masell Oswald explains in her introduction. “Learning is collaborative rather than competitive; values are central; community matters. These colleges are places of great coherence, where the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. It is these circumstances that develop leaders, people who can land on their feet, who are bold and imaginative, and who can see the big picture.”

BSC, the only school in Alabama to be selected and one of only nine in the South, is called “what college ought to be,” a place deeply dedicated to students’ learning. 

“Birmingham-Southern is so honored to once again be included in this important book,” said BSC’s President, General Charles C. Krulak, who himself is cited for his enthusiasm for and availability to students. “The author has really gotten the essence of what we do here at BSC – assume all our kids are capable of conquering the world and, through a personalized educational experience, give them the tools to do so.”

The revised edition praises ’Southern for its “long-standing assets,” including:

  • “Experiential learning in the form of independent studies, student-faculty research, service learning, and study away,” as exemplified by BSC’s intensive four-week January Exploration Term;
  • The Harrison Honors Program, which is called “an educational adventure” geared toward students ready to take a risk and learn in an interdisciplinary way;
  • The college’s emphasis on service and leadership, including its commitment to the community and the way it brings innovators in multiple fields to campus not just to speak but also to teach;
  • And the fact that BSC challenges students to think beyond their high school goals and find new passions that will last a lifetime.

“Self-discovery – intellectual, spiritual, or otherwise – is invaluable and far too rare on college campuses where nobody ever nudges students toward new and unusual opportunities,” the book says.

BSC’s greatest strength, the book says, may be the way everyone at the college is focused on allowing students to be their absolute best.

“People saw potential in me that I had never seen in myself,” one student is quoted as telling the author. “Faculty back me up when I mention that I might be interested in something. It’s amazing to have someone say, ‘You can do this.’”

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