Daniel Coleman, a Birmingham resident with more than three decades of experience in finance and strong ties to BSC, will be Birmingham-Southern College’s 16th president, college officials announced Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018.
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. He said that he wants Birmingham-Southern College to continue to expand its educational reach as it builds for its second century in Birmingham and to solidify its longtime 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,” Coleman said. “It has always been a special place here in Birmingham, and has such a history of and culture of service to the community.”
Coleman, 54, who will take office as president on Dec. 3, has played a leading role in the evolution of automated trading in global financial markets. Until its 2017 sale to Virtu Financial, New York-based KCG was a leader in the securities and financial services industry, Before KCG, Coleman was CEO of GETCO, a privately-held automated trading firm based in Chicago. Prior to that, he worked for 24 years for UBS and its predecessor firms, ending up as global head of equities for UBS Investment Bank.
“We are fortunate to have someone with such a thorough understanding of the college and broad experience shaping and growing complex organizations,” said BSC Board Chair Denson N. Franklin III ’85, who introduced Coleman to the campus at an event Thursday afternoon. “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 earned his B.A. in English at Yale University and an M.B.A. at the University of Chicago. He said his own background and work experience has epitomized the value of the kind of personalized liberal arts education that 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 replaces BSC President Emerita Linda Flaherty-Goldsmith, who retired from Birmingham-Southern earlier this semester due to health and family reasons. Acting President Dr. Bradley J. Caskey will return to his prior role as BSC’s provost, and Acting Provost Dr. Tim Smith will return to his prior role as associate provost. (Flaherty-Goldsmith and previous Presidents Emeriti Dr. Neal Berte and Gen. Charles C. Krulak were also on hand Thursday to welcome Coleman to campus in his new role.)
A native of Birmingham, Coleman and his wife, Brooke, returned to the city with their three children in 2009 after more than a decade in the New York area. Coleman served on Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin’s transition team and remains the co-chair of the mayor’s financial advisory team, working to improve the city’s management of its finances. He has also served on the boards of the Alabama Symphony Endowment and of Build Up, an innovative early-college workforce development program centered in the Ensley neighborhood.
In addition to the boards of KCG and GETCO, Coleman’s past corporate board memberships include NASDAQ Inc., the Options Clearing Corporation, and the Boston Options Exchange.
Coleman entered the world of finance as an option clerk after earning a degree in English at Yale. He earned his M.B.A. at the University of Chicago while trading convertible bonds. After moving to New York in 1996, he moved into management positions for a predecessor of UBS. He rose to head of global equities there; from 2005 through 2010, he oversaw a business that remained profitable through the recession, included the world’s leading cash equities execution business and equity research department, and handled global equity derivatives, global prime brokerage, and more.
From there, he moved on to Chicago-based market maker GETCO, first as global head of client services and equity trading and then as CEO, replacing the retiring founders in 2012. In that role, he expanded the business beyond its core of automated market making and led a merger with competitor Knight Capital Group.
To form KCG, Coleman merged GETCO and Knight Capital Group. Over four years, he raised over $1 billion of debt, cut costs, restructured businesses, and after four years sold the company with an 80% return for investors.
Upon completion of the deal, Coleman returned to Birmingham full time; he had been commuting to New York and Chicago. In that time, as well as working with the mayor’s office, he has served as an advisor to the Security Industry Financial Markets Association. He joined the BSC Business Administration Department as an adjunct professor, teaching three courses in finance, and he has taken courses at BSC in the computer programming language Python and in calculus, working alongside some of his own students – getting to understand a BSC education from an undergraduate’s perspective.
“I have discovered that the faculty at BSC are very much here to support students,” he said. “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.”