Sweet Briar College Will Remain Open For Another Academic Year

Illustration for article titled Sweet Briar College Will Remain Open For Another Academic Year

When Sweet Briar College, a women’s college in Virginia, announced that it would close in August, it set off a series of protests and lawsuits from students and alumnae. The college’s abrupt announcement came as a surprise to the tight-knit Sweet Briar community who said that there had been no clear signs of trouble at the small liberal arts school.


Now, after five weeks of negotiation, the state’s Attorney General’s Office said that the college will remain open for the next academic year. The New York Times reports that the agreement:

“[...] includes plans for electing a new president and board, and calls for an alumnae group to donate $12 million for Sweet Briar’s continuing operation [...]”

In addition, the agreement allows the Attorney General to release restrictions on $16 million from the college’s endowment to support operations at the college. The president will be replaced, as will the board of directors.

Alumnae of the small school were quick to celebrate: “We have moved a mountain. We have saved Sweet Briar College for a new era under new leadership,” the Facebook page, Saving Sweet Briar, wrote last night. But the continued existence of the college remains uncertain. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports:

About 230 students, nearly half of current students, had worked out transfer agreements with other colleges, according to a Sweet Briar spokeswoman. It was not immediately clear how many will choose to return.

Ashley L. Taylor, Jr., a lawyer for the alumnae group, was confident that students would return for the 2015-2016 academic year, though he did not offer specifics.

Administrators and alumnae of other women’s colleges had been watching the Sweet Briar case closely—especially since the sustainability of single sex institutions has been a subject of relentless debate. There’s no doubt that this still uncertain victory speaks to the dedication of women’s college alumnae.


Image via Getty.


It is fantastic news and really a testimonial to the power of an organized group of women who refuse to quit. I am so glad that my parents will get to return to teach for at least another year but I am even more glad for the students who will get the chance to have an education at that wonderful, beautiful place.