All last spring, alumnae and others fought to keep Sweet Briar College from closing. And they won: A court settlement allowed the private college in Virginia to continue its 114-year-old tradition of educating women.

On Monday, students began arriving on campus to start the new school year.

But the financial pressures which the previous president and board members had cited when they announced last spring that the school must shut down continue, and many supporters are anxiously watching to see that enough students apply, enroll, and remain there to study.

[Sweet Briar survives: Judge approves settlement deal to keep the college open]

The school won’t have official enrollment figures until September, a school spokeswoman said Monday. But the school’s president, Phillip Stone, who hopes to increase enrollment to record levels, told reporters that unofficial numbers suggest 248 students on the Virginia campus, and about 80 enrolled in the school’s junior year abroad programs, with at least a dozen still undecided. More than 500 attended last year.

Last academic year, there were 124 faculty members; this year there are 100, with 16 of them new to the school. The college has not reduced its academic offerings this fall despite the smaller enrollment, a spokeswoman said.

Later this week, as classes begin, an exhibit will open at a gallery on campus, documenting the struggle to keep the college open.


Sweet Briar College held the 106th commencement exercises on Saturday, May 16, 2015. Copyright Sweet Briar College. Photo by Meridith De Avila Khan.