Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Not an alum? No problem! #SaveSweetBriar

SBC's 3,000 acre campus is often names one of the most beautiful in the U.S.
Many of you may have heard that Sweet Briar College -- a small women's liberal arts college in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains -- is scheduled to close after the end of the summer.  The closure is terribly sad and infuriatingly premature. I hope it is not inevitable. It can be saved if enough people can be mobilized to help, and I think people will help if they realize what will be lost.

Background: Something ain't right
The Board/President's decision was not explained in any detail, and the announcement was not so much communicated as detonated. The President and Board members have largely disappeared since staff and students were informed. There is buzz in higher ed that the closure is "shocking" and "unlikely" and "sudden" (code for WTF?) -- and some news sources are questioning the financials. The college has significant assets--land, human, and financial--and some of the 2014 SBC Board members are among those fighting to keep Sweet Briar going. Sweet Briar alums are fighting the decision to close (see savingsweetbriar.com). Read more about it on my Pinterest board or on Google.

From a parents guide to college....
Alum or not -- pledge to help
Readers, I know most of you, like me, are not alums. Here is why I think we should care about this school and support SBC in its time of need. Beyond the ugliness of the situation, the assault to the sensibilities, there is a bigger picture. It's about educational mission of SBC, the people and the sense of place that make SBC unique. It's a college recognized for its focus on character development. Not having niche schools like SBC is part of the vanilla-zation of our culture and to some extent of higher ed. This will be a series of posts on why we should #savesweetbriar.

Reason Number One (with more to come): The women of SBC
The first reason to pledge is to support the extraordinary young women of Sweet Briar, past and present. Sweet Briar College looks for a certain kind of student and their recruiting process illustrates the kind of student they want/hope to attract. Here is their profile...
  • Women interested in the sciences. Sweet Briar College has more graduates with Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) degrees than the national average.
  • Women of character and world citizens. Sweet Briar College Admissions' outreach efforts include seeking out  recruit equestrians, environmentalists, and Girl Scouts, among other groups such as international scholars.  They have well-regarded programs in Spain and France.
  • Women who can think outside the box.  #thinklikeagirl. Women's colleges are by definition a niche market -- and they will attract independent, creative women who are not defined by cultural expectations. They want a different educational experience, and arguably one that is superior to co-educational settings. There is evidence that single-sex educational settings are more effective (there is well-demonstrated research supporting this in K-12).  
YOU CAN PLEDGE TO HELP! Go to savingsweetbriar.com to make your pledge.

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