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Judge refuses to block Sweet Briar shutdown

BEDFORD (AP) A judge refused to block the closing of Sweet Briar College on Wednesday, but issued an injunction to limit the small women’s college from spending any charitable contributions for that purpose.

While Bedford Circuit Judge James W. Updike Jr. refused to stand in the way of the closure, he issued the 60-day injunction restricting the use of the contributions, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

In a statement, a Sweet Briar spokeswoman said the ruling would allow “an orderly and responsible wind down of operations.”

“We recognize this is a difficult situation for everyone involved and we, too, mourn the loss of the college,” the statement from Christy L. Jackson said.

An attorney for alumnae seeking to block the closing said he would appeal Updike’s ruling.

Amherst County Attorney Ellen Bowyer had sought an injunction to block the closing, scheduled for August. She argued that charitable funds had been misused and that closing the 114-year-old college would violate the terms of the will that established the school.

Bowyer had sought the replacement of school leaders and a fiduciary board to manage its assets.

Updike ruled Tuesday that Bowyer did not have standing to pursue alleged violations of Virginia’s trust law but that she could make her case claiming misuse of charitable funds.

Sweet Briar is scheduled to close Aug. 25. The college’s board announced the closing on March 3, angering alumnae and current students.

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