The board of directors of Sweet Briar College decided unanimously this weekend to shut down the private liberal arts college due to "insurmountable financial challenges." The school will officially close on August 25, 2015.
When the board of directors announced its decision on Tuesday, its chairman Paul G. Rice said in a statement, "The board closely examined the College's financial situation and weighed it against our obligations to current and prospective students, parents, faculty and staff, alumnae, donors and friends. We voted to act now to cease academic operations responsibly, allowing us to place students at other academic institutions, to assist faculty and staff with the transition and to conduct a more orderly winding down of academic operations."
Though the school's current financial situation is not immediately challenging, school officials have said that it has become clear that it is not sustainable and it makes more sense to close now rather than drag the process out longer, when their financial condition would inevitably in worse shape.
This all-female school, located in Amherst County in Virginia, has a student body of around 700 students, according to a recent U.S. News and World Report survey.
The president of Sweet Briar, James F. Jones, thinks that a part of the reason the college will shut down is because a "declining number of students choose to attend small, rural, private liberal arts colleges and even fewer young women willing to consider a single-sex education." He emphasized the distant location of the school, noting that it's "30 minutes from a Starbucks."
All Sweet Briar employees will be losing their jobs, but the school is working on providing severance and any other form of support they can offer. All students, both current as well as those who were accepted for next fall, will be helped through the transfer process. Though this semester will be the last, the institution will remain officially open through the summer, so students will have the option of taking classes for credit elsewhere that they will be able to transfer to Sweet Briar in order to either earn degrees, or gain extra credit towards a degree elsewhere.