Statement by President Kiss on the Closing of Sweet Briar College

Tuesday, March 3, 2015



All of us at Agnes Scott were deeply saddened by the news that the Board of Trustees of Sweet Briar College has voted to close the college at the end of this academic year.  Our hearts go out to Sweet Briar’s faculty, staff, students and alumnae. 

These are challenging times for all colleges.  But challenging times can be a springboard for innovation.  

Because I anticipate that Sweet Briar’s decision may prompt questions about the strength and sustainability of other women’s colleges, I want to share with you that Agnes Scott is going strong -- and pursuing a bold and innovative plan to become even stronger by reinventing a women’s liberal arts college education for the 21st century. 

Here are a few of the key factors contributing to the strength of Agnes Scott today:

  • Strong and stable enrollments:  Four of the ten largest first-year classes in our 125-year history have enrolled in the past six years.
  • Rising student revenue:  Net revenue from tuition, room and board and fees has increased for each of the past four years, by a total of nearly $2 million.
  • Diverse and talented students:   Our students come from 37 countries and 36 U.S. states and territories, and we are well ahead of prior years in enrolled students for this fall.
  • Healthy endowment and financial resources:  Agnes Scott’s endowment was valued at $272 million as of June 2014, and the college is rated AA by Standard & Poor’s and Fitch.
  • Generous alumnae and friends:  We have raised $90 million toward the $100 million goal for the Greatness Before Us comprehensive campaign, which runs through December 2016.  Agnes Scott is currently ranked 20th in the country for alumnae participation.  We broke all of our previous annual fund records two years ago and raised a record amount for the first half of this fiscal year, through December 31, 2014.
  • A dynamic curriculum: Agnes Scott has launched 9 new majors and minors in the past seven years, including public health, neuroscience, and business management.
  • Smart partnerships:  The college has a growing network of partnerships with other institutions in Atlanta, including dual degree, joint enrollment and linkage programs with Emory and Georgia Tech.

Building on this strong foundation, we are preparing to transform and strengthen Agnes Scott by launching SUMMIT, a bold new initiative that will provide every student, regardless of her major, with a four-year experience of global learning and leadership development supported by a personal board of advisors.  Beginning this fall, every student will build her leadership skills and deepen her global understanding through an integrated sequence of courses and immersion experiences, including a faculty-led global study tour in the spring of her first year.  Every student will also create a digital portfolio reflecting on her learning journey inside and outside the classroom, and use it as the basis of her discussions with her board of advisors.

SUMMIT is grounded in a strategic market study and designed to increase enrollment.  It magnifies our commitment to educating women and empowering them to be change agents in a dynamic global society.  And it also provides a compelling answer to the question “Why Agnes Scott?” to today’s students.  

We hope that some Sweet Briar students will consider joining the Agnes Scott community of smart, strong, and feisty women, and will be offering “Spirit of Sisterhood” scholarships to eligible transfer students from Sweet Briar.  Interested students may find more information here:  

http://www.agnesscott.edu/admission/transfer-students/sweet-briar-college-students.html

I am grateful to all those in the Agnes Scott community past and present – trustees, faculty, staff, students, alumnae, benefactors and friends – whose support and passionate commitment has kept Agnes Scott strong for 125 years.  And I am excited about the journey ahead!

With best wishes, 

Elizabeth

Agnes Scott College educates women to think deeply, live honorably and engage the intellectual and social challenges of their times. Students are drawn to Agnes Scott by its excellent academic reputation, exceptional faculty and metropolitan Atlanta location—offering myriad social, cultural and experiential learning opportunities. This highly selective liberal arts college is known for its diverse and dynamic intellectual community. Through SUMMIT, it provides every student, regardless of major, with an individualized course of study and co-curricular experiences that develop leadership abilities and understanding of complex global dynamics.