Alumni from Hampden-Sydney College, a men’s college in Virginia, are trying to save Sweet Briar, the nearby women’s college that announced last week it plans to close.
As the Hampden-Sydney alumni put it, “Any gentleman who has graced the grounds of Hampden-Sydney will remember a Sweet Briar lady by his side.” The Hampden-Sydney alums’ effort has about 850 likes on Facebook and a goal of raising $100,000 to help Save Sweet Briar, a campaign by alumnae.
Sweet Briar’s closure could affect life at Hampden-Sydney, said William Ballance, a 2011 graduate of Hampden-Sydney who is involved in the campaign.
“Sweet Briar is an integral part to the Hampden-Sydney experience and saving Sweet Briar is essential to maintaining the quality of life and the status quo for Hampden-Sydney students current and future,” Ballance said in an e-mail. “There are far-reaching externalities from the closing of Sweet Briar.”
The men’s college put out a statement last week saying much the same: "Since Sweet Briar's opening in 1901, generations of Hampden-Sydney students, faculty and staff have formed personal and professional relationships with their counterparts at the women's liberal arts college.”
Also this week, a state senator whose grandmother attended Sweet Briar said he wrote a letter to the Virginia attorney general asking what will happen to the $84 million or so in the college’s endowment. The process for divvying up donated money is actually outlined in state law, but the attorney general plays a key role in that process and is part of talks that could determine where a chunk of that money ends up.
While Sweet Briar and Hampden-Sydney alumni may be upset about the plans to close Sweet Briar, others have praised its proactive closure, which Sweet Briar leaders say will prevent an unseemly death spiral.