Sweet Briar College in Virginia announced it is closing. According to its Wikipedia entry, it had an endowment of $88 million, academic staff of 64 for 735 students. Unlike many of its peers it had not gone in for graduate programs in recent decades.
BY KARIN KAPSIDELIS Richmond Times-Dispatch
SWEET BRIAR — Sweet Briar College announced today it will close Aug. 25, blaming “insurmountable financial challenges” caused by the dwindling number of women interested in single-sex education and the pressures on small, liberal arts schools.
The private, rural college near Lynchburg will hold its last commencement May 16 and cease operations at the end of the summer session after more than a century of educating women.
The college’s board of directors voted unanimously Feb. 28 to shut down after a yearlong study of its future failed to find any viable paths forward.
“This work led us to the unfortunate conclusion that there are two key realities that we could not change,” Sweet Briar President James F. Jones Jr. said.
Few students are choosing to attend rural schools where options for internships and work experiences are limited, and even fewer want to attend a women’s college, he said.
“The liberal arts college sector is embattled now on so many different fronts,” Jones said in an interview.
Sweet Briar will be the third liberal arts college to close in Virginia in the past two years, the result of financial pressures that also claimed Saint Paul’s College in Lawrenceville and Virginia Intermont College in Bristol.
Jones broke the heartbreaking news to stunned students in a meeting just before 1 p.m. Some burst out of the auditorium in tears at first word of the closing. Others sobbed and hugged each other, and called their parents on cell phones as the reality hit them.
“Will someone please tell me if this is a joke?” one cried.
A few said they had found out just before the meeting after faculty and staff were told, but most appeared caught unaware.
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