Sweet Briar grads reflect upon role in college’s survival at commencement

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May 20, 2019

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The first class of students to enroll at Sweet Briar College after the small liberal arts school nearly closed its doors in 2015 turned their tassels Saturday, as graduates celebrated the “leap of faith” they took four years ago and the lessons they’ve learned since.

“We took a chance on a college that almost did not exist. We were some of the first students to arrive on this campus in August of 2015. We were small, but we were here and that was the biggest feat of all,” said Caroline Thomas, Sweet Briar’s 2019 presidential medalist, at the school’s 110th annual commencement exercises.

In 2015, Sweet Briar’s board of directors announced it would close that summer because of financial hardships. The school remained open after alumnae and faculty members launched a successful legal challenge and fundraising campaign but the future of Sweet Briar was anything but clear.