Richmond, VA – Saving Sweet Briar, Inc., the non-profit group formed to save Sweet Briar College, expressed jubilation today after the Virginia Supreme Court extended the length of the existing injunction, ruled that Sweet Briar College can be a trust, and remanded the matter back to the Amherst County Circuit Court for further action.
“Today’s Virginia Supreme Court ruling is a major legal victory for the students, faculty, staff and alumnae of Sweet Briar College, for women’s colleges and for the sanctity of charitable bequests made in this country,” said Sarah Clement, Chair of Saving Sweet Briar (Sweet Briar College, AB 1975; University of Virginia School of Law, JD 1984). “We are grateful that the Virginia Supreme Court has accepted the arguments of County Attorney Ellen Bowyer that Sweet Briar College can be both a trust and a non-stock corporation.”
Today’s ruling sets the stage for what Saving Sweet Briar hopes will be even more sweeping action by the Bedford County Circuit Court to effectively stop the closure of Sweet Briar College.
“With the trust issue now resolved by the Virginia Supreme Court, we will move to seek the appointment of a special fiduciary to assess the college’s true finances and determine what is needed to close the current funding gap to ensure the College can remain open,” said Clement. “This fiduciary can then take a deeper look, working with all stakeholders, at what changes are warranted and appropriate to help reshape the college to ensure its long-term success as one of the nation’s leading institutions of higher learning.”
Clement said the tremendous efforts of thousands of Sweet Briar alumnae and supporters who have generated more than $16 million in pledges demonstrate that the short term funding gap can be closed while a longer term plan is developed.
“Our fight to save Sweet Briar has truly shown the values and spirit instilled in us during our years at Sweet Briar College,” added Clement. “We have fought with every ounce of energy and today our efforts have been rewarded. We will use the experience of nearly losing Sweet Briar as a galvanizing moment that can help us ensure that the College will emerge from this struggle as an even stronger institution that will serve many generations of students to come.”