A Case Study Analysis: How Sweet Briar College Prevailed Over Institutional Closure



Ennis, Amanda Ray

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This qualitative case study was conducted in order to better understand how grassroots efforts and campus culture influenced the decision to reverse the closing of Sweet Briar College in 2015. This study allowed for an in-depth analysis of how Sweet Briar College was saved, provided data for other small institutions that face the potential of closing, and offered examples of successful grassroots efforts. Using interviews and document review as data sources, four categories emerged from the findings: a culture of empowerment and responsibility, wide social network, sustained activism, and legal influences. The culture of empowerment and responsibility, together with the wide social network of Sweet Briar College’s alumnae are the categories that revealed and supported the influence that grassroots efforts and campus culture had on the saving of Sweet Briar College. This study suggests that the campus culture before the closing announcement at Sweet Briar College created an atmosphere among students and alumnae that supported grassroots efforts and sustained activism, which when paired with the legal proceedings surrounding this case were the ultimate contributors in the decision to reverse Sweet Briar College’s closing.



Sweet Briar College, Institutional closure, Grassroots efforts, Campus culture, All-women's college, Case study