More Lessons from the (Sweet) Briar Patch
Immediately after the June 2015 settlement of the litigation over Sweet Briar College, I authored an extended piece entitled “Lessons Learned from the (Sweet) Briar Patch.” In short, I noted that there are many lessons that other institutions could glean from Sweet Briar’s experiences in the first half of 2015. On July 2, 2015, Sweet Briar College’s current directors assumed responsibility for the institution, and since then, much has happened. As was the case a year ago, Sweet Briar’s recent history offers the rest of American higher education useful lessons that can be applied in these turbulent times - even if other institutions do not face crises on the level of those faced at Sweet Briar.
In this challenging era for American higher education, board members and officers of colleges must be particularly mindful of their fiduciary duties to the institutions they serve. To discharge those duties, board members need to ask informed questions of the officers and other administrators with whom they interact on campus. By examining the issues at Sweet Briar and the board’s actions in setting policy for an institution in crisis, board members at other institutions can identify useful steps that can be taken when confronting their own challenges.