New president takes charge at US women's university, rescued from brink of closure

A new president and governing board took command of Sweet Briar College on Thursday under a mediated settlement that rescued the 114-year-old women's college from the brink of closure.

Phillip C. Stone was named president by a new board of directors, which convened its first meeting by conference call linking members from around the country, the nonprofit Saving Sweet Briar Inc. said in a statement.

The change of guard was put into motion June 20 after now former college leaders, alumnae and others agreed to a settlement that would keep the school running with millions in donations and a loosening of restrictions on its endowment. A judge approved the settlement two days later.

In May, Sweet Briar's then president and governing board had said the school would close in late August, unable to overcome financial challenges they called insurmountable. But determined former students would have none of that. They questioned the dire financial picture the leaders painted, launched a fund-raising campaign and were party to one of several lawsuits challenging the decision.

The change of leadership Thursday was met with the sounding of college bells across the historic campus in the foothills of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains, Saving Sweet Briar said.