Sweet Briar staying open
- Rural Virginia women’s liberal arts college Sweet Briar will not close in August, as its board announced in March.
- The New York Times reports that Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced an agreement Saturday calling for a new college president and board of trustees, as well as $12 million in donations from an alumnae group that formed after the closure was first announced.
- Sweet Briar will bring on at least 18 new board members as 13 step down, and the next president is expected to be Phillip C. Stone, who has experience running a small private college, formerly served on an accreditation body, and is a lawyer, according to the article.
Sweet Briar’s closing announcement at the beginning of March caused much soul-searching among the higher education community. Some questioned the future of women’s schools, others questioned the future of liberal arts schools, and still others pointed to the small, private, rural location as the key to Sweet Briar’s downfall. While the college still had an $85 million endowment, so much of it was restricted, school leaders still claimed they didn’t have the finances to keep the college open. The New York Times reports that the attorney general will free up $16 million of the endowment to help fund operations.
When donors make charitable gifts, they are allowed to limit them to certain uses and colleges are bound by those restrictions. In this case, the Virginia attorney general has the power to free Sweet Briar officials from some of the limitations.
- The New York Times Sweet Briar reaches deal to stay open
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