AAMU Secures Funding, Moving Forward on Event Center

by Jerome Saintjones, Office of Marketing & Public Relations, Alabama A&M University

(PHOTO l-r) Alabama A&M University (AAMU) President Dr. Andrew Hugine, Jr.; AAMU General Counsel Angela Debro; AAMU Associate General Counsel Roslyn Crews; AAMU Senior Vice President for Finance & Administration Clayton Gibson

Huntsville, AL – Alabama A&M University officials recently closed on a 30-year, $70 million loan with the U.S. Department of Education’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Capital Access Financing Program. The new loan will allow construction to move forward on an event center near North Memorial Parkway, in addition to the launching of necessary renovations to the Carver Complex, the R.D. Morrison Fine Arts Building and the paving of select campus lots.

AAMU successfully participated in the USDE program in 2015, when it secured a $96 million finance package that was, at the time, the largest in USDE history. The funding enabled the University to refinance existing debt, save about $400,000 per year, provide $30 million to construct a new residence hall and renovate several buildings including Thigpen Hall.

According to AAMU President Andrew Hugine, Jr., “The loan enables us to continue enhancing our facilities to ensure that we have state-of-the-art buildings that provide an environment that is conducive to learning for our students.” He further noted that we want to be the institution of choice and facilities play a major role in accomplishing that goal. Hugine was joined by members of his cabinet, as well as by Don Watson, executive director of the HBCU Capital Financing Program.

“The efficient structure of the loan reduces interest costs,” said Clayton Gibson, AAMU senior vice president for business and finance. “The less we spend on interest, the more cash flow we can reinvest in facilities and scholarships, optimizing our student offering.”

Although AAMU’s administrative team (i.e., Comptroller’s office, budget office, facilities and general counsel, etc.) worked months putting together the financing package, Gibson said “the process was made easier because we have borrowed from the program before, and our stellar team of financial and legal advisors provided helpful insight along the way.”

Will Fisher, CEO of Rice Capital Access, the designated bonding authority for the Program, referred to AAMU as “the unicorn you never get to see,” because the University finished its last $40 million project financed by Rice Capital within budget and ahead of schedule.