The new president of Birmingham-Southern College said he’ll be working to help the college expand its educational reach and solidify its role as “the intellectual heart of the city.”
“I feel like the best way for me to have a positive impact on the city is to help Birmingham-Southern thrive,” Daniel Coleman, the Birmingham native who will take over the president’s office Dec. 3, said in a statement issued by BSC. “It has always been a special place here in Birmingham and has such a history of and culture of service to the community.”
Coleman, who was CEO of the global financial services firm KCG Holdings until its 2017 sale, has been a member of the college’s board of trustees and is currently an adjunct professor of finance.
Before KCG, Coleman was CEO of GETCO, a privately held automated trading firm based in Chicago, and before that was global head of equities for UBS Investment Bank.
He and his family returned to Birmingham in 2009, with Coleman commuting to New York and Chicago until the sale of KCG. Since making Birmingham his home base, Coleman has served on Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin’s transition team and is co-chair of the mayor’s financial advisory team. He also has been adviser to the Security Industry Financial Markets Association and has served on the boards of the Alabama Symphony Endowment and of Build Up, an innovative early-college workforce development program centered in Ensley.
While teaching at BSC, he also took undergraduate classes in computer programming and calculus.
“I have discovered that the faculty at BSC are very much here to support students,” Coleman, 54, said in the statement. “I have taken classes at a lot of places and while I’ve had some incredible teachers, I’ve not seen a lot of examples of professors being on students’ side. That’s something really special.”
Coleman said his own experiences have shown the value of a personalized liberal arts education, like BSC provides.
“I started my career in finance on a trading floor, but now, those jobs are almost all gone,” he said. “When I think about college, I think about that kind of rapid professional evolution that’s happening in every field. We need to make sure students have jobs when they graduate, but we also have to make sure they have the ability to adapt so they have careers decades later. That’s something the liberal arts does like no other form of education.”
Coleman also has said the financial stability of BSC is one of his priorities, and increasing enrollment at the college will be near the top of his to-do list when he takes office.
“We are fortunate to have someone with such a thorough understanding of the college and broad experience shaping and growing complex organizations,” BSC board Chairman Denson N. Franklin III said during a Nov. 15 event announcing Coleman’s appointment. “His love for Birmingham-Southern is apparent, but more than that, he brings an incredible skill set and perspective and impressed us with his ideas for moving BSC forward.”
Coleman takes office as BSC’s 16th president on Dec. 3, replacing BSC President Emerita Linda Flaherty-Goldsmith, who retired earlier this semester due to health and family reasons.