This post has been updated.
Supporters of Sweet Briar College made their third and final payment — the result of a settlement deal to keep the private school open — on Wednesday, with a little extra thrown in for good measure.
When the then-president of the women’s college announced in March that the school would shut down forever this summer because of financial problems, shocked alumnae and others quickly began a fight to stop the closure. Saving Sweet Briar raised millions in pledged donations, and this summer a judge approved a settlement to keep the Virginia college operating.
Some were skeptical that the group could deliver on its promise.
According to the terms of the deal, a final $3.5 million payment, the last of $12 million agreed upon, was due Wednesday. But with the school year just beginning, with a new president and board in place and students in classrooms, the group was able to turn pledges into real cash.
The final payment was $3.64 million.
“We made the first two payments ahead of schedule and will exceed the amount due for the third and final payment,” said Mary Pope Hutson, Chair of the Major Donor Task Force for Saving Sweet Briar, Inc, in a statement. “The fight to take back Sweet Briar College will be complete at Noon tomorrow.”
She called on Sweet Briar supporters to celebrate Wednesday. “At 12 Noon EST, ring a bell if you have one, and let’s show the world our colors—a sea of pink and green!”
In a statement after the payment had been received, Sweet Briar President Phil Stone said they would ring ring the bells in the college tower.
“Not only is this a significant gift itself, but it represents the culmination of extraordinary efforts by Saving Sweet Briar Inc. to save the College from closing,” he said.
“September 2 will always be remembered as the day Saving Sweet Briar demonstrated again the reality of the claim that at Sweet Briar College, the impossible is just another problem to solve!”