, a 114-year-old women's college in rural Virginia that surprised students, faculty, and alumnae earlier this year when it announced it was closing in August, will remain open for at least another academic year under an agreement announced over the weekend by the attorney general of Virginia, the reports.
As part of the agreement, the school will elect a new president and board and accept $12 million from an alumnae group toward its continuing operations. The agreement also calls for Attorney General Mark Herring to ease restrictions on a portion of the college's $85 million endowment — money that, combined with the funds raised from alumnae, will help keep the school open. The alumnae group, , has agreed to deliver the first $2.5 million installment of its contribution by July 2.
"The passion, creativity and commitment shown by the Sweet Briar family proves it is a special place," said Herring. "Sweet Briar College has been, and now can continue to be, an important part of the fabric of higher education in the commonwealth."
Under the memorandum of understanding released by the attorney general, thirteen of Sweet Briar's twenty-three board members will step down and at least eighteen new members will be elected. The new board, the memo said, is expected to appoint Phillip C. Stone, a former president of Bridgewater College, a small private college in Virginia, as the school's new president. A judge in Amherst County, Virginia, where the county attorney sued to keep Sweet Briar open, must approve the settlement. If the settlement is approved, the county’s suit, along with two others, will be dismissed.
Questions remain, however, as many non-seniors at the school had already arranged to attend other schools. "We are confident that students will return and that there will be a sufficient number of students for the 2015-16 academic year," Ashley L. Taylor, an attorney for the alumnae group, told the Times. Although he would not specify how many students would be returning, Taylor said the group would release a figure soon.