Sweet Briar College expects 175 new students when it opens its doors for the fall semester, increasing total enrollment but missing targets for the first recruiting season after the women's liberal arts college nearly closed last summer.
The college in rural Virginia on Monday reported 139 incoming first-year students, 18 transfer and nontraditional students, 11 new graduate students, and seven students returning after transferring to other schools. That's expected to bring total enrollment on campus to more than 325 for the 2016-17 academic year, up from 245 in 2015-16. It also means more students have decided to come to Sweet Briar since early May, when 125 applicants had sent deposits. But officials in Sweet Briar's new administration had higher targets, initially shooting for 250 students before revising their goal to 200. The college said it received a record number of applications, 1,390.
Sweet Briar's board moved to close the college in March 2015, pointing to rising tuition discounting, dropping enrollment and trouble attracting students. Alumnae resisted the move, winning a deal last summer to keep the college open. The college, which had wound down many operations, reopened under new trustees with a new president, Phillip Stone, and new fund-raising goals.
The college has now raised $10.25 million over 10 months, outpacing a $10 million goal, it said. Last year it raised $12 million in three months in order to remain open.
Sweet Briar finished its 2016 fiscal year under budget by $2 million, it said. It did not draw from its endowment.
Describing 2016 as “a rebuilding year,” Stone said in a statement, “We took over a mostly shuttered institution and could not start recruiting a new class until September of 2015, six months later than other institutions. The fact that we will have a student body of this size in such a short time is one more Sweet Briar miracle.”
Sweet Briar had 561 students in 2014-15 before the near closure.
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