Money issues force century-old Virginia college to close

A Virginia college told its students Tuesday it will close at the end of the academic year because of “insurmountable financial challenges.”

Sweet Briar College is an all-women, private school located in Lynchburg and has been open for more than 100 years. The institution plans to hold its final commencement May 16 and cease all operations Aug. 25, at the end of the summer session.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports the students were told in a private meeting with President James F. Jones, Jr which left many students stunned. The college’s board of directors voted to shut down after being unable to find any way out of its debt.

Jones told the paper that few students are attending a rural school where internships and other opportunities to work are slim and even fewer want to attend a women’s college.

Sweet Briar College is the third liberal arts college to close in the state in the last two years. Saint Paul’s College and Virginia Intermont College both succumbed to the same pressures.

The college opened in 1906 after it was founded in 1901 when Indiana Fletcher Williams left her ester for a college in memory of her daughter who died at the age of 16 in 1884. At that time, Williams’ estate consisted of $1 million and 8,000 acres of land, including the Sweet Briar Plantation.

The campus now consists of a large indoor arena, 18 miles of trails and 130-acre equestrian center on its 3,250 acres.

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