Birmingham-Southern's President Says Goodbye to Hilltop Family
Birmingham-Southern College students have grown accustomed to new things. Almost a year ago, Munger Hall thundered with applause when President Linda Flaherty-Goldsmith announced the college’s new tuition reset plan that would cut students’ bills in half. Before that, they heard about the dual degree programs in law and nursing, articulation agreements with community colleges and over half a dozen new majors that included architecture and computer science. It’s no wonder, then, that when Flaherty-Goldsmith sent an email at about 4:20 in the afternoon on August 23rd, entitled, “New Changes at Birmingham-Southern College,” many students expected another exciting initiative announcement. Yet the email content was not as joyous as they have been in the past. The letter, sent and signed by Flaherty-Goldsmith herself, revealed to the students, faculty and families of Birmingham-Southern that this year would be her last year on The Hilltop.
The president explained that she is experiencing a family emergency that demands her presence and devotion. While with her relatives this summer, she realized that both her role at Birmingham-Southern and the health of her loved ones were too delicate to juggle at once. She expressed that she cannot properly attend to her family's needs while working as the college president. As Flaherty-Goldsmith put it, right now “my own family needs me more than my BSC family does.”
President Goldsmith stated that her original plan when she left retirement in 2016 to serve as the college president, was to have a “short but transformative” tenure. Goldsmith said, “My intention was to take three years to set BSC on a course that would lead to growth in new directions well after my time there.” She has accomplished this goal; she led BSC into an unprecedented time of growth when she encouraged new majors, re-evaluated and improved ’Southern’s unique curriculum, and started community initiatives like Bridge to the Future. The incredible tuition reset announcement that has gone into effect this year is perhaps her crowning achievement. The move not only brought in a national PR for BSC, but it also played a key role in landing BSC on CNBC's recent list of The Top 20 Best Value Colleges in 2019.
President Flaherty-Goldsmith expressed a desire to continue her Hilltop journey, sharing that her excitement to meet this year’s freshmen makes her want to stay and keep working with them. However, she has informed the Board of Trustees of her plans and says, “I am confident that our beloved college will find an impressive leader to continue the work we have started.” From dressing as an elf and delivering Christmas cookies in the library, to always welcoming students with a reliable, friendly face on campus, President Flaherty-Goldsmith has been not just a transformative leader but also a friend to all who have set foot on The Hilltop.
From her beginning days in office, BSC students knew her stay would be a special one; only a few days after her coming, students carried the new pins on their backpacks that said, “Because we’ve always done it that way” slashed through with a red line. This newest change is an unexpected kind, and President Linda Flaherty-Goldsmith will be sorely missed.
She and her family will always be a part of the BSC community, and Bagheera offers her good wishes and support in this next step of her life.