Sweet Briar College has once again been named as one of the nation’s Most Innovative Schools, according to the 2021 Best Colleges rankings by U.S. News & World Report. Sweet Briar tied for 24th place with Bryn Mawr, Middlebury and two other institutions in the National Liberal Arts College category. The University of Richmond is the only other school in Virginia to make the list. This is the second time in three years that Sweet Briar has been singled out for this distinction, in recognition of its academic and institutional innovations.
For over a century, Sweet Briar College has educated women who have gone on to serve as pillars of their families, communities, and societies, exercising a particularly democratic form of leadership that is collaborative, supportive and ethical. Today, Sweet Briar is building on this educational legacy to redefine leadership for the 21st century, in which women will increasingly lead the way forward.
In the past two years, Sweet Briar has created and honed its new leadership core curriculum, whose 10 courses are designed to give its students the knowledge and skills they will need to understand global environmental and technological challenges and devise solutions to them that are socially, politically and economically sustainable.
In educating the next generation of women leaders who can meet the demands of the new century, Sweet Briar brings many assets. Its 2,800-acre campus, one of the largest and most beautiful in the nation, is a natural canvas and laboratory for the academic program. It contains lakes, vineyards, an apiary, wildflower meadows, a state-of-the art 26,000-square-foot greenhouse and the Sweet Briar College Historic District, comprised of 21 Georgian Revival academic and residential buildings. The College’s award-winning riding program is one of the oldest equestrian programs in the country, and its engineering program is one of only two ABET-accredited engineering programs at a women’s college in the nation.
The College’s president, Meredith Woo, said, “Sweet Briar’s selection as one of the most innovative colleges recognizes its ability to foster and educate women leaders who will be able to conserve and steward our world in creative, responsible and sustainable ways. By extension, this recognition is also an affirmation of the creative possibilities inherent within the time-honored tradition of the liberal arts.”
Sweet Briar’s ranking was determined by top academics who participated in U.S. News & World Report’s annual peer assessment survey conducted in the spring and summer of 2020. College presidents, provosts and admissions deans were asked to nominate up to 15 colleges or universities in their respective ranking categories that are making the most innovative improvements in terms of curriculum, faculty, students, campus life, technology or facilities. A school had to receive seven or more nominations to be listed. U.S. News & World Report states that the top-ranked schools are those the public should be watching because of the cutting-edge changes they are making on their campuses.