Monday, March 30, 2015

How Sweet Briar's Board Decided to Close the College

The Chronicle of Higher Education
March 28th, 2015

Hilary Bowie remembers when she made the mental jump from being a college student to being a member of her college’s Board of Directors. It was at her first board meeting, in November 2012, six months after she had graduated from Sweet Briar College.
The college had announced a new strategic plan a year and a half earlier. Ms. Bowie, then a junior, had been taken in by the upbeat language in the title: "A Plan for Sustainable Excellence." Her college, already excellent, was going to get even more excellent. There was a plan — a beautifully worded one, at that.
Sitting in her first board meeting, Ms. Bowie realized that the words in the plan didn’t really mean much. It was the numbers that counted. Sweet Briar had missed its target numbers for enrollment and per-student revenue, explained Jo Ellen Parker, then the president. The college really needed to start hitting those numbers, the president told the board.

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