Imminent Virginia Supreme Court Decision on Sweet Briar

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Save Sweet Briar

June 4, 2015; WDBJ-TV (Lynchburg, VA)

At a hearing yesterday before the Virginia Supreme Court, William H. Hurd, an attorney with Troutman Sanders LLP who is working with Amherst County Attorney Ellen Bowyer to block the closing of Sweet Briar College, asked that the court issue an injunction to keep the college open long enough to settle underlying legal questions. Additionally, he asked the court to appoint a “special fiduciary” to ensure the school continues to operate properly over this period so that the real financial position of the school is properly understood and not worsened, making unadjudicated questions of law moot.

“This is not a college that is doomed to failure,” Hurd argued.

Hurd said that the board’s single-mindedness about “winding down” the school’s operations despite evidence that its financial position is not yet fatal requires there be oversight, and that that same single-mindedness makes time a very real actor in the situation. An injunction would essentially stop the clock’s steady progress toward a fait accompli.

The tenor in the court—as you can hear at this linked recording—would definitely have given those attempting to save the school reason for hope, but this is certainly no indication of outcome.—Ruth McCambridge