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Sweet Briar College Stays Open

Sweet Briar, the small, women's college in Lynchburg, Va., slated to close this summer will remain open, as a result of a lawsuit filed by its alumni.

Pledges of $12 million in contributions and a decision by the Virginia Office of the Attorney General to release some restricted endowment funds will be enough to keep the liberal arts college from shutting its doors, the college and the nonprofit group, Saving Sweet Briar Inc., announced over the weekend.

The agreement reached by the alumni group and the college includes ushering in a new president and members of its board of directors with the hope of finding a sustainable model for the school, which had less than 600 students last year. Since the decision to close was announced in March, many students have made plans to transfer and faculty members have taken positions elsewhere.

Reversing course and rebuilding the college will be a challenge for the expected new presidency of Philip Stone, the former president of nearby Bridgewater College in Virginia, reports Inside Higher Ed today.  The Chronicle of Higher Education refers to the decision as a "tentative reopening" and the victory is tempered by uncertainty about the future. This spring, some experts predicted other small, liberal arts schools with financial struggles may follow Sweet Briar's lead.

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