The Resurgence of Miles College

Twenty years ago, enrollments at Miles College, the historically black educational institution in Fairfield, Alabama, near Birmingham, had dwindled to about 400 students. Money was tight, and to many observers it seemed like the college would have difficulty surviving until the 21st century.

But Miles College made a dramatic comeback. There is now a record 1,800 students at the college. And the college hopes to increase enrollments to 3,000 over the next several years.

A major boost was the acquisition of a 40-acre parcel of land adjacent to campus that was the site of Lloyd Noland Hospital, which has closed. The acquisition doubled the size of the Miles College campus. The college plans to demolish the old hospital building and build a new performing arts center on the site. Also, the new grounds will house a school for international politics, a physical education facility, and a child development center.

The college is in the midst of a $30 million fundraising campaign to pay for the expansion. To date, more than $24 million has been raised, mostly from area corporations and foundations.