Sweet Briar Campus

Sweet Briar College in Amherst. Submitted

Thumbs up to the alumnae, friends and supporters of Sweet Briar College for yet another year of prodigious fundraising coming only four years after the century-old women’s college in Amherst County almost closed its doors for good.

In the recently concluded fiscal year 2019, President Meredith Woo announced the school had received gifts and pledges totaling $18.5 million. Alumnae, friends, foundations and corporations all stepped up to support the college that defied the odds and naysayers in 2015. According to the college, $10.2 million was for the current fiscal year, with $8.3 million coming as future support.

And here’s the kicker: Since Sweet Briar’s near-death experience, fundraising has totaled $63.9 million. Even more important, S&P Global Ratings, the world’s major bond rating agency, has upgraded the school’s bonds for each of the last three years. The move indicates professional money managers have confidence in the continued viability of the college and in its business plan for the future.

In announcing the year-end total, Woo knew exactly who deserved the credit for the success: “Our success is owed to the support of our alumnae and friends. I’m humbled by their passion and generosity, and we at Sweet Briar are singularly committed to being worth of their support.”

U.S. News & World Report just recognized Sweet Briar as one of the most educationally innovative colleges in the country. That accolade comes on the heels of Kiplinger, a Washington, D.C.-based publisher of business and personal financial advice, recognized Sweet Briar as one of 400 colleges and universities recognized as a “best-value college.”

Considering how close the college came to shutting its doors forever, these and other accomplishments and honors are nothing short of astounding. Looking to the future, we see great things for this institution, and it’s all because of the passion and love the Vixens have for their alma mater.

Holla, holla, holla!


Thumbs up to the friends of slain Virginia State Police Trooper Lucas Dowell who came together to honor the Amherst-based officer with the naming of a bridge in his memory.

Dowell was killed Feb. 4 when a tactical team was executing a warrant in Cumberland County. Businessman Steve Martin, who volunteers as chaplain of the Amherst Volunteer Fire Department, wanted to honor his friend’s memory and came up with the idea of naming the U.S. 29 Business bridge over U.S. 29 in his memory.

The measure sailed through the approval process in Richmond, and on Aug. 2, family, friends and community members gathered in Amherst for the unveiling of the memorial dedication.

Law enforcement is a high calling, but it’s a dangerous job. Trooper Dowell, we’ll never forget your sacrifice.

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