It is important to note that the changes to staffing and curriculum that were reported yesterday in the Lynchburg News and Advance article, “Cutbacks at Sweet Briar College,” are a direct outgrowth of our inclusive strategic planning process which took place over a two-year period with contributions by faculty, staff and alumnae. The changes are deliberate and responsible initiatives to increase the financial sustainability of our program in what we believe is the “new normal” economy for higher education today.
Many changes have nothing to do with cost but instead increase Sweet Briar’s focus in key strategic areas. For example, the major in engineering management is only one thread in our outstanding engineering curriculum. Eliminating it allows Sweet Briar engineering to focus its resources more intensely on the vibrant ABET-accredited engineering science degree program.
The changes to our program reflect trends in student enrollment and interest, while honoring the liberal arts foundation on which a Sweet Briar education rests. We remain strongly rooted in our mission as a liberal arts college while making adaptations appropriate to educating students for the 21st century. We will build upon our traditional ability, made possible by small size and individual mentoring, to customize a student’s program of study through advising and options such as the independent major, and to demonstrate to her how Sweet Briar’s curriculum will prepare her for the career she desires to pursue now as well as those she may undertake in the future.
While enrollment at Sweet Briar has been essentially stable for more than a decade, we have the capacity to serve more students. As part of our strategic plan, it is our desire and goal to increase our enrollment to serve a larger number of students than we have in the past. Sweet Briar is proud of its long history of educating women who shape the professions and communities they lead. We dedicate ourselves to ensuring the currency and vigor of this tradition of excellence and success for women.