September 4, 2018; WSLS-TV (Roanoke, VA)
Longtime readers of NPQ will remember our coverage of the attempted closing of Sweet Briar College in 2015. The board voted to close the women’s college, deciding that it was not viable in the long term, but organizing among the school’s alumnae among others essentially forced a reversal of the action through the courts. Amid naysaying by observers, a new board was formed, new plans were drafted, and an interim and then a permanent president were chosen. Now, three years later, Sweet Briar College has been singled out as one of the nation’s Most Innovative Schools, according to the 2019 US News & World Report Best Colleges rankings. In fact, Sweet Briar ranked higher than any other college or university in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Another recent indicator of its revival is its 42-percent increase in enrollment this year over last. A report from Sweet Briar College News adds, “In Sweet Briar’s case, innovation has been comprehensive and multilayered. In addition to curating an academic curriculum built on its areas of excellence, the College reduced tuition to make the superlative education at Sweet Briar affordable and the true cost more transparent. A sustainable budgetary restructuring positioned the size of the College’s administration to grow alongside student enrollment over the long term.”
You can read more about Sweet Briar and stakeholder takebacks of institutions here in an interview with the board presidents of Sweet Briar and the San Diego Opera.—Ruth McCambridge