Sweet Briar saved—for at least one year

Deal will keep college open for one year

Sweet Briar College will stay open for the next academic year under a new president and board, according to a deal announced Saturday by the state's attorney general's office.

Officials at the small college in Virginia announced on March 3 that they intended to close the school because of insurmountable financial difficulties, touching off a series of protests, lawsuits, and fundraising efforts from alumni, faculty, and staff.

Under the deal, Sweet Briar's leadership will be replaced by nominations from plaintiffs in three related pending lawsuits. The college's president has agreed to resign, as well as at least 13 of the 23-person board of directors.

In exchange, Saving Sweet Briar has promised to raise $12.5 million for the upcoming school year, including $2.5 million due by July 2. State officials will also lift restrictions on $16 million of Sweet Briar's endowment.

The future of faculty and staff members remains to be seen. While most were told they would lose their jobs at the end of June, the new agreement says faculty and staff will receive a severance plan—and some will be offered employment for next year.

The deal must still be approved by the county circuit judge, James Updike, and will be presented to him on Monday.

"The passion, creativity, and commitment shown by the Sweet Briar family proves that it is a special place," said state Attorney General Mark Herring. "Sweet Briar College has been, and now can continue to be, an important part of the fabric of higher education in the commonwealth (Kapsidelis, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 6/21; Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, 6/22; Smith, KWCH12, 6/22).

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