“This is a sad day for the entire Sweet Briar College community,” said Paul G. Rice, SBC board chair. “The board closely examined the College’s financial situation and weighed it against our obligations to current and prospective students, parents, faculty and staff, alumnae, donors and friends. We voted to act now to cease academic operations responsibly, allowing us to place students at other academic institutions, to assist faculty and staff with the transition and to conduct a more orderly winding down of academic operations.”
Efforts will begin immediately to help current students transfer to other colleges and universities. Additionally, following spring break, which ends Sunday, March 15, the College will host on-campus college fairs to help match current students with transfer opportunities. The College will offer to students who have been admitted to Sweet Briar for fall 2015 assistance in finding a new academic institution.
The College will be winding down academic operations over the next several months. The Class of 2015 will be the final graduating class, and the commencement ceremony on May 16 will be the last one held on campus. A final on-campus Reunion Weekend will take place May 29-31, 2015. The College will close on Aug. 25, 2015, in order to allow for the completion of summer credit hours.
“While the College has long been part of my life, as my wife is a 1969 graduate, my role as president has taken on more meaning than I could ever describe,” President James F. Jones Jr. said. “The board, some key alumnae and I have worked diligently to find a solution to the challenges Sweet Briar faces. This work led us to the unfortunate conclusion that there are two key realities that we could not 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.”
In March 2014, the College began a strategic planning initiative to examine opportunities for Sweet Briar to attract and retain a larger number of qualified students and determine if any fundraising possibilities might exist to support these opportunities. Unfortunately, the planning initiative did not yield any viable paths forward because of financial constraints.
Faculty and staff, students, prospective students, parents, alumnae, donors, federal, state and local officials, and other stakeholders were notified of the board’s decision earlier today. Opportunities for informational meetings and conversations will continue throughout the month and through the end of the school year. The College hopes to provide severance and outplacement services to faculty and staff, details of which are still being determined. Academic records for alumnae currently held by the College will ultimately be transferred and maintained by an accredited higher education institution. Until that time, Sweet Briar’s Office of the Registrar will continue to operate and provide that information.
“As we faced this difficult decision, our guiding principle has been to enable the Sweet Briar community members to hold their heads high, knowing the College exited higher education with honor and integrity,” said Elizabeth H.S. Wyatt ’69, vice chair of the board of directors. “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.”
More information is available at sbc.edu/transition.
Admitted students and parents who need assistance should call the Office of Admission at (800) 381-6142.
Current students and their parents may contact the Office of the Dean of the Faculty for academic questions at (434) 381-6205 or the Office of Co-Curricular Life for student life questions at (434) 381-6134.