Sweet Briar is known, among other things, for its historic buildings designed by Ralph Adams Cram. To help preserve these structures, we received grants and gifts to conserve a selection of architectural drawings and blueprints by Cram and his firm. I’m delighted that the first batch of conserved works has just returned to campus; they are stored flat in mylar sleeves for safe keeping. A second batch will come back in October. The restored drawings and blueprints are stunning. They will help guide our preservation work and can be used for study in classes. In future, we plan to broadly share them with our community and the public through digital images, publications and exhibitions.
We continued to welcome a variety of summer programs and events. In July, we hosted the Virginia Commonwealth Games mountain bike race, with our scenic trails providing a challenging 7.3-mile loop course (dubbed Daring Daisy). Community member Chris Garrett took home a bronze medal in the men’s 45 and up sport division. (In another example of Garrett family fitness, Dean Teresa Garrett completed an Ironman 70.3 triathlon, in which she swam 1.2 miles, rode a bike for 56 miles, and ran for 13.1 miles!)
Top Flight Soccer, Orange Grove Dance, Young Writer’s Workshop, the U.S. Hunter Jumper Association’s Emerging Athletes Program, and our own Explore Engineering were the final camps for the summer. Camp participants ranged in age from 8 to 30; let’s hope some of the younger visitors return to Sweet Briar as students.
Our preparations for the arrival of the students have been aided by 78 alumnae and friends who returned to the College for Sweet Work Weeks from July 22 through August 8. These volunteers painted three residence halls, weeded and mulched the grounds and sprinkled their special spirit everywhere they went. It’s always marvelous to have them here. I am most grateful for their energy, enthusiasm and expertise in helping the campus look its best, and I know you join me in appreciating their contributions.
Let me share with you other College updates for the month of July.
As of Aug. 8, we have 185 deposits (165 first-year and 20 transfer students). We will continue to recruit domestic first-year and transfer students into September to secure more deposits for fall 22.
Planning and implementation of recruiting initiatives are well underway for the fall 23, including a special push for students to apply early by August 15. The Sweet Briar application opened July 1; the Common App opened August 1.
We are wrapping up our summer admissions events. We held our first Summer at Sweet Briar on June 17, our second on July 15, and participated in Virginia Private College Week from July 25 – 30. Our last Summer at Sweet Briar was Aug. 5, with almost 60 guests (18 prospective students and their families) attending. Athletes, always a vital component of our recruiting efforts, were well-represented at our summer events.
Academics, Student Life, Athletics
Theatre professor Quill Camp’s latest play, “White on White,” about the meeting of an antiracist discussion group, was presented in June and July by the Hoi Polloi company at the JACK performance space in Brooklyn. The play was reviewed in the New York Times
and flagged as a “Critic’s Pick.”
During the summer, Student Life hosted a variety of virtual events for incoming students and a Q & A for their parents and families about onboarding. We are planning for the year ahead with the Student Government Association (SGA), Campus Entertainment Organization (CEO), Inter-club Council (ICC), and other student organizations. The staff continued to do training and professional development through webinars and hold planning sessions about retention and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) issues.
Resident advisors and orientation leaders arrived last week for training. Participants in the Bridge Program (which aids students’ success and college transition and is led by Tony Ryals) will arrive on the 11th, followed by new athletes and international students on the 12th. Meghan Gladle, multicultural student services manager, has been hosting virtual pre-arrival orientation sessions for the international students to help them get ready for living and learning at Sweet Briar. All other new students will join us on the 13th, when the full array of orientation programming
launches. Returning students be back by the following weekend, with Convocation on Sunday, Aug. 21 and the three-week term starting the next day.
The academic program has new faculty members coming on board in economics, English and creative writing, environmental science, galleries/museum, math, music, political science and psychology. A writing specialist for the Academic Resource Center and a collections manager for the galleries/museum are also joining us.
Sweet Briar athletics is gaining incredible momentum. In 2021/2022, Sweet Briar placed fifth in the overall rankings of the Virginia Sports Information Directors (VaSID) All-Sports survey with a win-loss record of 51-35 and an overall winning percentage of 59.3% across five of the college’s NCAA-sponsored sports (field hockey, soccer, tennis, lacrosse and swimming). This marks the highest ranking and winning percentage for the Vixens over the last two decades!
Our student athletes continued to be recognized for their academic success. Fifty-seven were named to the ODAC All-Academic Team
, six student athletes across four sports were selected for the Virginia Sports Information Directors VaSID Academic All-State Team
had eight members named to the Colonial States Athletic Conference (CSAC) Winter/Spring 2022 All-Academic Team, and tennis
was named an ITA Division III Women’s All-Academic Team, with ten team members (the most for the program in a single year) named to the list of Women’s Scholar Athletes.
We are pleased to announce that Eric Allen
is our new head lacrosse coach and that the schedules for cross country, field hockey and soccer are in place; the respective home openers for field hockey and soccer are Sept. 3 and 10. I hope you can come out and support our teams at home or on the road.
Finance, Operations & Auxiliaries
Purchases by summer program participants, Sweet Works Week volunteers, and prospective students kept the Book Shop busy. Soon the staff will be distributing t-shirts to the first-year class.
Campus Safety Officer Purvis attended a weeklong specialized certification course, Critical Incident Training, for responding to mental health emergencies. The College hosted A.L.E.R.R.T. Training for thirty area officers, providing active shooter response training for law enforcement and campus safety first responders.
Finance / Business Office did additional FY23 draft budget analysis and modeling, provided endowment statements as available to Adavico to support the fourth quarter valuation and unitization, and generated fall semester bills.
Information Technology enrolled incoming students in a cybersecurity training class, uploaded pictures of students and advisors to Stellic (our degree management tool), successfully tested e-Transcript, and applied Oracle and Banner Application patches to Banner Test Server for testing by users. They replaced network switches in Guion and Pannell, set up additional Zoom rooms, and refreshed computers in the campus computer labs.
Physical Plant continued to work on the turf field, the student common spaces projects and preparing the residence halls for the students’ return. They completed housing leases on our seventy rental units and allocated housing for new employees living on campus. We renewed the College’s Educators Legal Liability (ELL) insurance policy with a modest increase.
Projects / Agriculture finished the repair to the in-water foundation of the boat storage building and the boathouse. We continue to explore methods to lessen the volume of lily pads and algae in both lakes to facilitate future usage. A new pump system is being installed in the upper lake to provide water to the new soccer and turf fields.
In the vineyards, we completed tying up the vines and the bird netting will be in place by mid-August. Grape volume is looking excellent with an expected harvest in late August. We expect to harvest the switchgrass in late September. Pine harvest operations continue on schedule along the northern edge of Sweet Briar property.
The greenhouse continues to be fully populated with plantings. We are adding a small building behind it to facilitate hydroponic tube cleaning, which has previously been done outside.
Alumnae Relations and Development
Sweet Briar’s alumnae and friends contributed $25.6 million in FY 2022. We spent much of July thanking them for their generous support, reviewing our results, tracking our statistics, and fine-tuning our goals for the coming year. We have begun planning travel to visit our supporters as we continue to cultivate and steward our valued relationships with individuals, foundations and corporations.
AR & D worked over the summer to engage our 365 class leaders, who help drive participation and giving, by conducting an annual survey of our partnership with them. Many will return to campus for Founders’ Weekend in September, when we hold our annual volunteer training sessions for class leaders, club leaders, the Alumnae Alliance Council, and Admissions Ambassadors. Alumnae clubs in Boston and in Fredericksburg recently hosted events with current and incoming students, and the DC Metro/Hunt Country club headed to Morven Park International Equestrian Center for a polo match.
We created our solicitation and communications calendar for all areas of alumnae engagement and fundraising, including the upcoming launch of the public phase of the campaign, Sweet Briar: Where Women Lead
. Our planning for the campaign launch is in high gear; we have finalized the campaign case statement and the reference guide for volunteers. We will be training our volunteers at the end of August and are planning and have secured hosts for campaign events in the fall and winter.
Communications is working on the fall issue of Sweet Briar Magazine, planning this year’s marketing campaigns across various media, and producing messaging to prospective students, brochures, and the new viewbook. They’re also shepherding our website redesign and the campus wayfinding project, the first fruit of which is a new downloadable campus map
formatted to print on one page.
In closing, I hope you’ve had a good summer and are looking forward to the students’ arrival and the start of the semester. This is going to be a great year. Thanks again for all you do for Sweet Briar.