Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday Globe Special: Not $o Sweet Briar Patch

"Bleak finances deflating Sweet Briar’s ‘pink bubble’; Effort is launched to keep women’s college in Va. open" by Steve Szkotak Associated Press  May 17, 2015

SWEET BRIAR, Va. — A visitor to Sweet Briar College would be hard-pressed to find signs of the financial stress that is shutting the tiny women’s school.

Twenty-one buildings on the 3,250-acre campus are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Days before Saturday’s planned commencement, seniors astride horses rode through a quad worthy of a putting green.

This campus on the eastern slope of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains is called the ‘‘pink bubble’’ for a reason. Its idyllic setting seems plucked from another era.

But hidden beneath the trappings of apparent prosperity are familiar signs of trouble: declining enrollment, rising tuition, debt, and an $80 million endowment that is largely restricted.

In announcing the planned closure of the 114-year-old school in early March, Sweet Briar leaders described the reason as ‘‘insurmountable financial challenges.’’

They are the same kind of challenges that have driven dozens of women’s colleges out of existence. In 1960, there were about 230 women’s colleges and that number had slipped to below 50 last year, according to Women’s College Coalition.

With US college enrollment declining for two straight years, education experts say Sweet Briar represents the canary in the coal mine for similar institutions.

‘‘The small, private, tuition-dependent nonprofit institutions face an uphill battle in many places,’’ said Andrew P. Kelly, director of the Center on Higher Education Reform at the American Enterprise Institute.

‘‘The ones that can adapt and focus on their comparative advantage will be successful and those that can’t will have a really hard time continuing to attract enough students to pay the bills,’’ he said.

For Sweet Briar, the obvious move would have been to go coed, as its neighbor to the south in Lynchburg, Randolph College, did in 2007. The private liberal arts college was formerly known as Randolph-Macon Women’s College.

As early as 1988, Sweet Briar’s faculty voted ‘‘no confidence’’ in the administration because of how the college was dealing with declining enrollment, The News & Advance of Lynchburg reported.

Now, as Sweet Briar’s problems have mounted, there are too many hurdles to overcome.

‘‘All of those things put us in a position that, from my perspective, makes this an unsustainable business model for us,’’ said Amy Jessen-Marshall, vice president of academic affairs and dean of faculty at Sweet Briar. ‘‘It certainly is heart-breaking.’’

Going coed, Jessen-Marshall said, would be a ‘‘significant undertaking,’’ requiring a court-approved change in the will that created Sweet Briar.

In 1901, Indiana Fletcher Williams left her entire estate, a former plantation, to establish Sweet Briar in memory of a daughter who died at age 16.

Almost immediately after Sweet Briar’s announced closure, shock turned to anger, then a fierce resolve to keep the school open. On the eve of the commencement, anger was still simmering as president James F. Jones Jr. announced that he would not participate Saturday because of the fears of unspecified disruptions.

The announcement has also united Sweet Briar graduates around the world in hopes of reversing the decision and the local county attorney has attempted to blunt the closure through the courts. It is among several court challenges, including one filed by a majority of the faculty.


Can anyone remember any contribution they have made recently? 

Looks like you will have to transfer to UVa:

"Rolling Stone sued over gang rape story" Associated Press  May 12, 2015

RICHMOND — A University of Virginia associate dean sued Rolling Stone magazine on Tuesday for more than $7.5 million, saying a debunked and retracted account of an alleged gang rape on campus cast her as the ‘‘chief villain.’’

Nicole Eramo, the top administrator dealing with sexual assaults at the Charlottesville school, said the magazine piece about a student rape victim identified as ‘‘Jackie’’ portrayed her as more concerned about protecting the university’s reputation than helping victims of sexual assault.

A report published by the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism said Rolling Stone failed at virtually every step of the process.

The criticism came two weeks after the Charlottesville Police Department said it had found no evidence to back the claims of Jackie, who said she was raped by seven men at a fraternity house in 2012.

Looks like Rolling Stone was set up!


Speaking of set-ups:

"Virginia woman sentenced to 4½ years in terror-support case" Associated Press  May 12, 2015

RICHMOND — A Virginia woman who tried to help a teenager join Islamic State militants and carry out a suicide bombing was sentenced Monday to 4½ years in federal prison for lying to the FBI about the plot.

Heather Elizabeth Coffman of Glen Allen said in a written statement read aloud by US District Judge John A. Gibney that she now believes the terrorists she befriended on social media ‘‘are not what I thought them to be,’’ and that she regrets actions that have separated her from her 7-year-old son.

Gibney said that while Americans are free to believe as they choose, Coffman crossed the line by recruiting for the Islamic State and lying to federal agents facing the daunting task of preventing terrorism.

Aw jees!

‘‘It’s not like lying to your parents about who broke the lamp,’’ Gibney said. ‘‘Her lies were blatant and just as two-faced as you can imagine.’’

I read the Globe every day. What of it?

Coffman, 30, pleaded guilty in February to making a materially false statement about an offense involving terrorism.

According to court papers, Coffman posted numerous messages on Facebook supporting the Islamic State and tried to help a teenager in Macedonia make arrangements to train and fight with the group in Syria.

She thought no one would notice? I mean, all this stuff so stinks of psyops.

She had an online romance with the teen, describing him at times as her husband or fiancé.

Look at how laughably lurid and ludicrous this is getting.

The plan was for the teenager to carry out a suicide attack and die a martyr, but he backed out after their relationship soured.

He was going to do it for love!

Defense attorney Mary Elizabeth Maguire said that the Islamic State ‘‘has done a brilliant job of manipulating young people through social media’’ and that her client’s immaturity made her a prime target.

Then what the hell has the NSA been up to other than looking at all the naked selfies?

‘‘I think she never understood the gravity of what she was doing until it was too late,’’ Maguire said.


Lying must be a characteristic of women from Virginia.


Virginia court hears appeal of Sweet Briar College closing

Plan OK’d to save Va. women’s college

Donations help save Sweet Briar College

300 students to enroll after tumult at Sweet Briar College