EDUCATION

Saving Sweet Briar: Women's college alumnae stave off shutdown, buy time for new president

FILE - In a Thursday, June 4, 2015 file photo, Sweet Briar College alumni do a cheer for the school after a hearing on the closure of Sweet Briar college at the Supreme Court of Virginia in Richmond, Va. Sweet Briar President Phillip C. Stone marvels at the energy of passionate alumnae who helped save the school just a few months ago from closure. But he knows without a serious change in fortune, the salvation will only be temporary. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

FILE - In a Thursday, June 4, 2015 file photo, Sweet Briar College alumni do a cheer for the school after a hearing on the closure of Sweet Briar college at the Supreme Court of Virginia in Richmond, Va. Sweet Briar President Phillip C. Stone marvels at the energy of passionate alumnae who helped save the school just a few months ago from closure. But he knows without a serious change in fortune, the salvation will only be temporary. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)  (The Associated Press)

Students are returning to classes at Sweet Briar College, months after the women's college in the foothills of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains seemed destined to shutter.

The school's former leaders said in March the school would close under insurmountable financial woes. But former students refused to believe that. Alumnae took matters into their own hands, raising tens of millions of dollars to assure the 114-year-old liberal arts college would open this academic year.

When students return this month, they'll have a new president. Phillip Stone left a law practice with his grown children to take over Sweet Briar.

He's a former president at another liberal arts college where he oversaw large enrollment growth. Stone says growing enrollment from the present 300 to 800 students is key to Sweet Briar's survival.