Sweet Briar

See update here: SBC Denies Disney Rumors.

The decision by the Board of Directors to immediately close Sweet Briar College despite the college still having approximately $90 million dollars in the endowment and a positive asset to debt ratio seems simply bizarre. While the historic college might be losing a little money during the economic downturn, the endowment is designed to keep things going during the lean years and seems to have ample funds. Yet the swift decision to immediately close and the secrecy surrounding the Board’s processes seem odd to say the least, especially considering that the money to save the school appears to be available with the website savingsweetbriar.com already raising over $16 million with simple social media networking.

Now, to be fair, the Board has painted a bleak picture for the economic future of the school, and some claim that this is a national problem. However, this doesn’t explain the immediacy of the decision to close nor the secrecy surrounding the proceedings leading to immediate closure. Even if closure is inevitable, the endowment has enough money to keep the school open a few more years so that the current Vixens can graduate. Likewise, the $16 million that has been raised in just a few months by savingsweetbriar.com shows that a broad base of support exists to assist the flagging financials of the college, but the Board still won’t reconsider and is fighting tooth-and-nail to make sure the closure happens immediately.

So the mystery is why is such immediate action being taken by the Board? Why is the Board so adamant and refusing to hear any other options, despite $16 million being raised so quickly? Even more odd is the apparent support (or lack of opposition) that the closure is finding among state politicians who would not appear to have a stake in the case.  For example Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring who filed an amicus brief in opposition to the lawsuit designed to keep the school open. The Virginia Supreme Court disagreed with Herring in a recent opinion, giving hope to students and alumni. Why would Herring risk alienating thousands of alumni as voters? Why would politicians like Herring be in favor of closing the historic institution?  Especially considering that Sweet Briar is the largest employer in Amherst county? Further, Sweet Briar’s endowment isn’t the only financial asset that college has; Sweet Briar also owns 3,250 acres of beautiful land along the Route 29 corridor. Beautiful Land We are hearing from a source in position to know that this beautiful land is the reason that Sweet Briar is closing. Because there is a buyer ready to move quickly and quietly to purchase the whole lot, historic buildings and all. This buyer has the immense economic power and major influence to keep the related decisions silent, immediate, and final. Who? Well, it has a lot to do with a similar land deal of about 3,000 acres that got scuttled about twenty years ago.  According to our source, the reason Sweet Briar is closing is to make way for: america_logo In 1994, Disney was all set to close on 2,000 acres in Haymarket in as the core to its envisioned 3,000-acre Disney America in Prince William County. That deal was scuttled, but Disney is on the record as keeping its plans alive to set Disney America in Virginia. Riley over at Virginia Virtucon was openly calling for Disney to revive its Disney America design in the Williamsburg area a few years ago. Many in Virginia consider the protests and objections that forced Disney to shut down its plans 20 years ago a big mistake.  Our source has informed us that Disney is ready to rectify that mistake, and now wants the 3,250 acres that Sweet Briar sits on to bring Disney America back to life and back to Virginia. That kind of potential investment causes things to develop both quickly and quietly, and Disney is no wilting flower when it comes to political muscle.

The immediate and irrevocable action in shutting down makes sense, because Disney does not want a repeat of the protests related to the sale of historical land that killed the project in 1994. Instead, if the college is already closed and shuttered, Disney can come in like a hero and rescue Amherst County from the economic disaster that closing Sweet Briar would otherwise lead to. Likewise, there are already many plans in place to widen and develop the Route 29 corridor so that the new Disney America would be accessible from Northern Virginia, Central Virginia via Route 64, all the way down to Charlotte, North Carolina. This would be an economic boon for the entire Commonwealth. This explains why politicians are staying oddly quiet about the closure (or even actively supporting the closure like Herring) because they don’t want to be associated with the destruction of a piece of Virginia history and one of the last all-women’s colleges. But they do want to bring the economic engine of Disney to Virginia and reap all the related benefits. There you have it folks… The answer to the mystery.  Mickey Mouse is trying to kill the Sweet Briar Vixen.

Follow Edmund Randolph @EdRandolph1753. MickeyBambi