A judge has approved a settlement that will allow Sweet Briar College in Sweet Briar, Va., to stay open for the next academic year.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that Bedford County Circuit Court Judge James Updike accepted three consent orders presented by Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, whose office brokered a mediation effort of nearly six weeks.
"The painful experience of nearly losing Sweet Briar has become a galvanizing moment that truly underscores the value of a Sweet Briar education in teaching us to stand up and fight for what we believe in with our full hearts and minds," says the alumnae group, Saving Sweet Briar Inc., formed after the school's planned closure was announced. "Thousands of young women in high schools across the country who are making choices about where to go to college will come to know a new Sweet Briar – a college where women can get a great education and learn to be leaders that can solve our society’s greatest challenges."
The orders transfer leadership of the college to a new president and board of directors. The settlement also requires Saving Sweet Briar to provide $12 million--$2.5 million of which is due by July 2. Another $16 million from the college's restricted endowment also will be available for the continued operation of the school.
"As a result of these two important developments, the board of directors decided that new leadership should be allowed the opportunity to operate the college for another year with the hope it will be able to find long-term solutions for ongoing sustainability," the board of directors said in a news release.
Sweet Briar, a women’s college near Lynchburg, was founded 114 years ago by a landowner who donated her estate — a former plantation — for the purpose of educating young women. In March, the college's board of directors announced that Sweet Briar would close because of “insurmountable financial challenges.”
Sweet Briar had an enrollment of 532 students in 2014-15.