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Sweet Briar College professors unanimously oppose school closing
The closure of a liberal arts school in Virginia has sent shock waves through higher education. Now, the faculty have unanimously voted to oppose the closing. - photo by Eric Schulzke
When Sweet Briar College, a women's liberal arts school in rural Virginia, announced earlier this month that it was closing, many observers were surprised, as the college is still sitting on a sizable $85 million endowment.

But not everyone is taking it lying down. It may not be news that faculty about to lose their jobs object, but just in case, the faculty of the college unanimously voted this week to oppose the school's closing, according to the Washington Post.

We the Faculty of Sweet Briar College oppose the unilateral decision to close the College. We support our alumnae and students. We request an immediate meeting with the Board of Directors to discuss specific alternatives as we move forward," announced the approximately 75 professors, the Post reported.

Many on the faculty argue there are alternatives to closure, according to the Post. One professor put together a detailed proposal with new financial backing and academic focus options.

Liberal arts colleges are facing pressure throughout the country, as costs mount and demand thins. Sweet Briar's woes are partly traced to its rural location, far from urban centers that attract today's students.

"We've been seeing a decline in single-gender education for 60 years, with women's colleges closing or going co-ed," Jason Lane, the director of educational studies at the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, told Business Insider.

"I think with rural education too, folks are looking for areas with more activities or larger college towns," Lane added.

"The number of private four-year colleges that closed or were acquired doubled from about five a year before 2008 to about 10 annually in the four years through 2011," Bloomberg reports, citing a 2013 study by researchers at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Alumnae are also fighting to stop the closure, which could include legal action, The Roanoke Times reported.

We are keeping our cards close to the vest for now," William Hurd, a lawyer for the Saving Sweet Briar alumnae group, told The Times. "Hope you will understand. We can send you a copy of our pleading when we file."

As the Times wrote, however, "that suggests ... the alumnae intend to do more than just ask the board nicely to reconsider."
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