A sweet victory for Sweet Briar

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Source - The Richmond Times Dispatch

If and when Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring runs for governor, you can bet he will sweep one passionate demographic: the students and alumnae of Sweet Briar College. On Saturday, the AG announced that his intensive mediation efforts have produced a deal that will keep the school alive, at least in the short term.

Sweet Briar’s leadership had decided it could not keep the school going any longer. When it announced closure plans, former students rose up in righteous fury. Nothing about the school was so broken it couldn’t be fixed, they argued; the problem was a lack of faith, effort and competence by the school’s administrators.

Complicating the issue was the narrow legal question regarding the nature of the institution and the perpetual trust that had created it. Lawsuits filed over the question quickly reached the Virginia Supreme Court, and even the justices there seemed flummoxed by the conundrum. The legal uncertainty created an opening that Herring walked through. New leadership will be installed, and the wheels of closure will grind to a halt, at least for the time being.

The school is not out of the woods yet. The advocates have only a short time to raise a tall stack of money. Given what they’ve achieved so far, however, it would be foolish to underestimate their chances. Both they and Herring deserve a round of applause for rescuing an institution others had given up on and showing that, as Calvin Coolidge once said, nothing can take the place of persistence.

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