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Declining Enrollments, Financial Pressure Force Two Liberal Arts Colleges to Close

Caving to declining enrollment numbers and financial obstacles, two small, private liberal arts colleges announced Tuesday they will close at the end of this academic year. 

The 114-year-old Sweet Briar College, a Virginia-based women’s college, abruptly announced Tuesday its board of directors voted late last week to close the school at the end of the summer session in August, due to “insurmountable financial challenges.” The governing board of the 70-year-old Tennessee Temple University, a Christian liberal arts college, also voted Tuesday to shut down May 1 and merge with Piedmont International University, another private Christian college located 300 miles away in North Carolina. 

Both schools cited declining enrollment numbers over the last several years and an inability to climb out of troubling financial situations – a reality many small, private colleges have faced since the Great Recession.