At its meeting in Atlanta on Dec. 6, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), Sweet Briar’s accrediting body, reaffirmed the College’s accreditation.
Every accredited college and university must go through the two-yearlong reaffirmation process every 10 years. At Sweet Briar, the reaffirmation process was managed by the academic dean, but required the active support and participation of the entire campus. The re-accreditation process includes an exhaustive review of all its programs and operations both by the College itself and by representatives of SACSCOC from peer colleges and universities. Colleges are required not only to review all their programs and operations to assure that they are in compliance with SACSCOC standards, but they must submit documentation to demonstrate their compliance.
As part of the reaffirmation process, Sweet Briar also developed and instituted a quality enhancement plan (QEP) designed to enhance student learning. Sweet Briar’s QEP centers on enhancing women’s leadership development through the core curriculum and co-curricular activities.
After receiving the College’s report of its own review, together with the required documentation, the SACSCOC Reaffirmation Committee conducted a virtual campus visit in April 2021 to engage with campus personnel and ask questions. After the committee filed a report of its findings and the College responded, the commission, consisting of representatives of the 11 states making up the southern region, voted to approve Sweet Briar’s re-accreditation.
“At Sweet Briar College,” said President Meredith Woo, “we take pride in this remarkable outcome. Unlike some colleges—large and small, elite and not-so-elite, rich and poor, that end up with results that are not clean and stellar—Sweet Briar’s accreditation is not subject to monitoring reports, warnings or probation. I am most grateful to the faculty, staff, and students who worked together to make this outcome possible.”
The reaffirmation is the culmination of a year of good news for Sweet Briar. The fall 2021 class of incoming students numbered more than 200—the largest group in almost a decade—and the College’s donors continue to exceed fundraising goals by almost every measure. Fundraising and enrollment success, combined with sound financial management, led S&P Global in October to raise the school’s long-term rating to BB from BB-. S&P also noted that Sweet Briar’s outlook is stable.
Sweet Briar’s athletics program also continues to impress. In the spring, the NCEA team won the College’s first-ever national championship and the tennis team saw a number of successes, including a berth in the NCAA Division III Women’s Tennis Doubles Championship. In addition, Sweet Briar will break ground on a turf field in early 2022 and softball will return to our varsity lineup next fall.
Sweet Briar’s vineyard produced its first sellable crop in 2021, an amazing outcome for the College as it invests in its agricultural initiatives. Those initiatives are particularly important in a state where agriculture is the dominant industry.
Despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, Sweet Briar College continued to convert challenges into opportunities for success, making 2021 a great year that will provide a strong foundation for the College’s continued success.