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Re: “Why Didn't Sweet Briar Anticipate Crisis?

A couple of things.
On point #6: Maybe they could sell land, but what would you sell the land FOR? Part of the issue is Sweet Briar's location - it's rural, in beautiful country sure, but the college was having trouble finding students to be far away from there. (I'm an R-MC prof, and our president describes it as students wanting a place where there's some "commotion.") It's not like there are obvious buyers - you can't just throw condos out in the middle of nowhere.
On point #3: the reason why there was such a high faculty-student ratio was because their enrollment dropped. They WANTED to raise the ratio, but they weren't getting the students. You might suggest they fire faculty, but that's difficult to do, and which faculty/programs should they eliminate? How does that help them get more students if, for example, they no longer offer French classes, or Chemistry? (And overall, a small faculty-student ratio is NOT financially unsustainable; it's just difficult. But it has big rewards for students.)
On point #4: they looked into this, but the all-women factor wasn't as big in their declining enrollment as location and size. They just didn't think it would make enough of a difference fast enough.
The alumni fundraising has been impressive, but even then, it's not sustainable. Sure, they can get $3M this year - but what about the following year? How do they find renewable, sustainable sources of income? They did a bad job connecting with alumni on this, but I find it hard to blame them.

3 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by rjmarr6e1a on 03/13/2015 at 8:55 AM

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