The faculty of Sweet Briar College voted to object the closing of the school in a meeting held Monday, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.
The college released a statement on March 4, 2015, stating that it will close in late August.
Although the faculty does not want the school to close, Sweet Briar College lacks the funds to stay open, Elizabeth Wyatt, vice chair of the board, told the Times-Dispatch. Of the school's $84.8 million endowment, most of the money is restricted for specific uses. With these limitations, the school only has enough funds to make it through to the end of this year.
In February 2014, the board of directors at Sweet Briar College met and voted to officially close the institution because of “insurmountable financial challenges,” according to the statement. In March 2014, the college began a strategic planning initiative to research ways to better attract qualified students to the school and also raise more money to help support the school.
After researching the issue, James F. Jones Jr., president of Sweet Briar College, stated that the school had come to two realities that no plan could change.
“The declining number of students choosing to attend small, rural, private liberal arts colleges and even fewer young women willing to consider a single-sex education, and the increase in the tuition discount rate that we have to extend to enroll each new class is financially unsustainable,” Jones said.
As the school begins to slowly shut down over the next couple of months, it will host college fairs on campus to help match current students with possible schools to transfer, according to the Sweet Briar’s statement. To ease the process the college has established “teach-out” agreements, or schools which current students may transfer to through an expedited process, with more than 10 different universities including Lynchburg College, Salem College and Randolph Macon College.
On top of helping current students find new universities, the college is also providing faculty and staff severance and outplacement services along with helping what would have been the class of 2019, those students who were already admitted for the fall 2015 semester, find new academic institutions. In light of the sudden closing of the college, Virginia Tech will also be accepting late applications from students affected by the event.
Sweet Briar College will be the third Virginian liberal arts college, with Saint Paul’s College and Virginia Intermont College, to close in the past three years because of financial troubles.
Both Intermont College and Saint Paul’s College struggled financially, which led to a series of deficiencies and violations. Saint Paul’s College lacked financial stability and had too many faculty members without terminal degrees, which led to the college being stripped of its accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. This led to its eventual closing in June 2013, according to Diverse Issues in Higher Education.
Intermont College similarly struggled financially, then also lost its accreditation from the SACS before closing in late May 2014, according to The Roanoke Times. Sweet Briar, on the other hand, did not want to go down the same path before shutting down.
“If we make the decision to close now, we will have a better opportunity to conclude academic operations in an orderly, compassionate and ethical way that pays homage to those who are here today and to those who came before us,” Wyatt said in the statement.
Contact news assistant Helaine Ridilla at firstname.lastname@example.org