Our Sustainable Future: Addressing Deferred Maintenance

In 2013 the Stone House Group conducted a deferred maintenance study for the College. The resulting study—the estimated cost requirement was $29 million over ten years—suggested financial challenges that appeared insurmountable and contributed to the decision to close the College. In 2021, we asked the same group to update their report (henceforth, “Stonehouse 2021”). (Nota Bene: Stonehouse 2021, previously shared with the board, is based on the enrollment assumption of 800 and includes the cost of building a new dormitory. The group was also asked to address all deferred maintenance at Sweet Briar without considerations as to cost.)

The challenges are great but not insurmountable. In the last few years, we have chipped away at the problem through a steady renovation and upkeep of our buildings. Often dubbed “refreshes,” and funded through the College budget or gifts, they are the “small wins” that improve the quality of life for our students and employees.

Guion was “refreshed” in this manner. Its exterior has been scrubbed for the first time in more than fifty years, with the interior getting new lights, new paint, new water bottle filler stations, refinished floors and a refurbished auditorium. We will put a new roof on the building, extending its life and reducing the costs of its complete renovation. We anticipate that Guion’s essential infrastructure renovations will lower the total cost of deferred maintenance by millions of dollars. Babcock is likewise undergoing a refresh prior to major renovation, starting with the lobby.

Other “refresh” examples include the renovation of the expansive kitchen in Prothro, replacing its waste lines, fixing its floors, degreasing and painting its walls and installing new LED lights. New HVAC systems were installed in the Prothro Josey Dining room as well.

Residence halls have undergone improvement. Funded largely by reunion class gifts, student and common rooms have been refreshed with new paint and new furnishings. New elevators—starting in Manson, for instance—are being installed. The same applies to faculty and staff housing on campus, which has undergone renovation. Grounds improvements, road maintenance and repair, tree removals and additions are also part of the constant reinvestment in our land.