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Fighting to Save Sweet Briar Leads to Mediation

Tuesday, June, 2, 2015


The Sweet Briar College dispute continues on with parties participating in ongoing mediation meetings. Attorneys representing the parties involved negotiated for three hours the beginning of this month and met again mid-month.


Executive Director of the Virginia Center for Consensus Building Mark Rubin is overseeing the process, held in privacy. Following the early May meeting, 25 mediation participants gave a joint statement concerning the meeting and calling it “an open and candid exchange of ideas and a productive step in fostering a conversation about the future of an institution that we all care deeply about.”


The mediation group include Deputy Attorney General John Daniel, attorneys representing the college and board, lawyers representing Saving Sweet Briar Inc. and Amherst County Attorney Ellen Bowyer. Attorneys with separate suits intended to block the college’s closing on behalf of the students, faculty, parents, and alumnae were also present.


The mediation comes following the dispute over the closing of the college. Sweet Briar’s board of directors announced in March the school would close late in the summer because of financial problems. Immediately after the announcement was made, fundraising efforts began and a legal team was hired by alumnae to stop the closing.


The Saving Sweet Briar group has raised more than a million dollars with more than 12 million in pledges, and was recently granted 501 C-3 status, so tax deductions made to the organization are tax deductible for donors. Additional money is expected to roll in during the end of May Reunion Weekend for the college when more than 2000 alumnae visit their alma mater in Amherst County.


At the moment the college has no plans for what to do with any money, property, or real estate once the school closes. There are no plans for selling or developing the campus.