Sweet Briar College, a liberal arts school for women located just north of Lynchburg, Virginia, has announced that it will shut its doors after 114 years. The 700-student school cited financial challenges for the sudden shutdown. Although the school has a multi-million dollar endowment, school officials said it wasn't enough to offset the shrinking number of students interested in attending a women's school.
Sweet Briar has an endowment of roughly $94 million, but said they were facing "insurmountable financial challenges." College President James F. Jones Jr. told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that the school had considered several options, including going co-ed, but concluded it was "a significantly risky strategy" and "not an automatic prescription for success." Several women's colleges have closed or gone co-ed in recent years, including William Peace University in Raleigh, North Carolina, Chatham University in Pittsburgh, and Lambuth University in Jackson, Tennessee.
Sweet Briar students were told in a private meeting on Tuesday that the school will hold its last commencement on May 16 and shut down entirely on August 25; the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that the news "left many sobbing in despair."
Sweet Briar students pop bottles of champagne when they arrive at their dorms, 1969. Photo via AP