All-Women Sweet Briar College Will Close After 114 Years


Sweet Briar College, a liberal arts school for women located just north of Lynchburg, Virginia, has announced that it will shut its doors after 114 years. The 700-student school cited financial challenges for the sudden shutdown. Although the school has a multi-million dollar endowment, school officials said it wasn’t enough to offset the shrinking number of students interested in attending a women’s school.

Sweet Briar has an endowment of roughly $94 million, but said they were facing “insurmountable financial challenges.” College President James F. Jones Jr. told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that the school had considered several options, including going co-ed, but concluded it was “a significantly risky strategy” and “not an automatic prescription for success.” Several women’s colleges have closed or gone co-ed in recent years, including William Peace University in Raleigh, North Carolina, Chatham University in Pittsburgh, and Lambuth University in Jackson, Tennessee.

Sweet Briar students were told in a private meeting on Tuesday that the school will hold its last commencement on May 16 and shut down entirely on August 25; the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that the news “left many sobbing in despair.”

Sweet Briar students pop bottles of champagne when they arrive at their dorms, 1969. Photo via AP

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin