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Sweet Briar College
Motto Rosam quae meruit ferat
Motto in English She who earns the rose may bear it
Established 1901
Type Private women's college
President Jo Ellen Johnson Parker[1]
Faculty 64
Students 735
Undergraduates 724
Postgraduates 11
Location Sweet Briar, Virginia, USA
Campus Rural, 3,250 acres (13.15 km2)
Colors Pink and Green          
Nickname Vixens
Athletics NCAA Division III, ODAC

Sweet Briar College is a liberal arts women's college in Sweet Briar, Virginia, about 12 miles (19 km) north of Lynchburg, Virginia. The school's Latin motto translates as: "She who earns the rose may bear it." The Admissions Office's current theme is "Think is for Girls."



The school is named after the former Sweet Briar plantation, which was likely named for the sweet briar rose. Sweet Briar College is located on the former plantation of Elijah Fletcher and his family. Fletcher was a 19th century teacher, businessman, and mayor of Lynchburg. His wife, Maria Crawford, is credited with naming the land Sweet Briar. By the mid-1800s, Fletcher had between 80 and 100 slaves at the plantation. After their emancipation in 1865, several continued to work for pay and live at Sweet Briar. On Elijah Fletcher death, his daughter, Indiana, inherited the plantation. When she passed in 1900, she willed the land and much of her assets to starting a college for women. The goal, as stated by Williams, was to prepare young women to be "useful members of society."


The campus is situated on 3,250 acres (13 km2) in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The college's architecture is dominated by the work of Ralph Adams Cram, who also lent his architectural expertise to the campuses of Princeton University and West Point, among others. The campus property also includes the Sweet Briar plantation burial ground, in which upwards of sixty slaves are buried; a slave cabin remains on the land. Archaeologists have uncovered many slave artifacts that have helped to piece together local social history. Twenty one of the thirty buildings on campus were designated as the "Sweet Briar National Historic District" by the National Register of Historic Places.[2]

Sweet Briar is home to The Center for Civic Renewal, The Virginia Law-Related Education Center and the Junior Year in France and Junior Year in Spain programs.


Sweet Briar has continually ranked high across the board by several organizations.

  • In 2009-10, Princeton Review game SBC an academic ranking of 99, a perfect score.
  • In 2004, Princeton Review gave SBC an academic ranking of 99, a perfect score. [3]
  • U.S. News & World Report's "America's Best Colleges" ratings, out of 100 top liberal arts colleges: in 2006, 71st;[4] in 2005, 68th;[5] in 2004, 63rd.[6]
  • Princeton Review's "Best 361 Colleges": in 2008, ranked No. 1 for "Most Beautiful Campus," No. 5 for "Best Career/Job Placement Services," No. 8 for "Professors Make Themselves Available," No. 10 for "Professors Get High Marks" and No. 13 for "Class Discussions Encouraged."
  • Princeton Review's "Best 361 Colleges": in 2007, ranked 7th "Professors that Make Themselves Accessible," ranked 10th "Class Discussions Encouraged" and ranked 12th "Dorms Like Palaces." Based on a student-based survey.[7]
  • Princeton Review's "Best 361 Colleges": in 2006, ranked 11th "Professors Make Themselves Accessible," ranked 11th "Class Discussions Encouraged," ranked 14th "Dorms Like Palaces." [8]
  • Princeton Review's "Best 357 Colleges": in 2005, ranked 14th, higher than any other women's college, "Best Overall Academic Experience" and ranked 9th "Best Bargains" (private schools).[9]
  • Princeton Review's "Best 351 Colleges": in 2004, ranked 4th in "Student Happiness with Financial Aid," ranked 11th "Best Quality of Life Category," and ranked 15th "Class Discussions Encouraged."[10]
  • Princeton Review's "Best 345 Colleges": in 2003, ranked 8th "Students Happy with Financial Aid," ranked 9th "Professor Make Themsevles Accessible," ranked 10th "Best Quality of Life," and ranked 12th "Are Your Instructors Good Teachers?"[11]
  • National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) results: in 2004, SBC exceeded national average on all five key NSSE measures; in 2001, SBC scored in the top 10% on all NSSE measures; in 2000, SBC scored in the top 20%.[3]
  • Princeton Review's most beautiful campus: In 2007 rated #1,[7] in 2006, rated #3;[8] in 2005 rated #5.[9] (Student-based survey)


  • The school operates 3 pre-professional programs: Pre-Law, Pre-Medicine and Pre-Veterinary.
  • SBC was the second women's college to offer an engineering degree.
  • From 2004, SBC offered graduate degrees. Both programs are co-ed and in the field of education.
  • SBC offers several abroad programs to its students, the two largest being Junior Year in France and Junior Year in Spain.
  • There are eight different languages that students may choose to learn.

Student Traditions

Class landmarks

The Senior Steps (which only seniors may use, although any underclasswoman may if a senior invites her), Junior Bench (which only seniors and juniors may use, or underclasswoman if a senior or junior invites her), Sophomore Rock and Freshmen Hitching Post.

Class of 2007 sits on the Senior Steps during spring Step Singing 2007

Spring and Fall Step Singing
Seniors sit on the senior steps while the other three classes sit surrounding the senior steps and the classes serenade each other with meaningful and humorous songs.

Incoming first years become "little sisters" to their junior "big sisters" who help them acclimatize to college life.

Secret Sophomore
Sophomores pick a senior to give gifts to over the course of their final year, and are revealed at the end of the year.

Junior Banquet
Juniors receive their class rings and have to "earn" their senior's robe by dressing up for a week. In previous years, the the seniors would also either elaborately decorate their junior's room, or prank them in some way through their room (messing it up or moving the furniture).

Lantern Bearing
Seniors march with a close underclasswoman friend, with decorated lanterns either made by the underclasswoman. The seniors wear their academic robes and other members of the procession traditionally wear white.

The Rock and Hitching Post
Paint fight between the freshmen and sophomores in the fall. The hitching post and the sophomore rock will be also be painted different colors during the academic year, either to memorialize a school event or as a prank.

Founder's Day
The Sweet Briar community walks up to Monument Hill, where the founder's daughter (Daisy) is buried, and celebrate the beginning of the school year. Students traditionally lay daisies on Daisy's grave.

Class Ring
Juniors receive their rings at the Junior Banquet, which ends Junior Week. The ring design has remained similar for many years. The ring is worn on the left pinky until the woman is engaged, and then she wears her ring on her right pinky. The ring is worn with the chapel pointing towards her heart while she is at Sweet Briar, and pointing away when she is gone.

Each class has its own colors, motto and Latin emblem, which rotate every four years.[12]

The "Holla Holla" Song is a song that students sing in praise of any worthwhile accomplishment. Any student may "Holla" at any time and students are known to join in spontaneously to support the person in whose honor the song is being sung.

The Sweet Briar Song is sung at most formal occasions, including commencement and Founder's Day. The Sweet Tones, one of the tap clubs composed of a capella singers, learn the Sweet Briar Song in four part harmony and often include it in their biannual concerts.

Tap Clubs

Sweet Briar does not have a formal Greek system. Instead, many women are members of tap clubs, so named because new members are "tapped" (that is, woken up in the middle of the night) rather than rushed as in a traditional Greek sorority. In addition students can belong to more than one tap club (although students may only belong to one of the "main four"), and they do not live in sorority houses. Some clubs tap in the fall but most tap in the spring. There are tap clubs for many different interests, and rivalries between the clubs run deep.[13]

Aints 'N' Asses
Often referred to as simply "Asses," the Asses are outgoing and boisterous. The Asses put on Ass Shows — comical, light theater for satirical purposes. Their rival tap club is Paint 'N' Patches and their colors are blue and red.

Bum Chums
The Bum Chums' primary purpose is community service. They organize annual blood drives, the Bum Chum Bazaar, and fund a scholarship (to mention just a few). The Bum Chums also strive to promote class bonding among the sophomore class; who as freshman, typically, only know the women on their hall or in their dorm. The Bums are one of the four main tap clubs and their colors are red and white.

Chung Mungs
Chung Mung is the second oldest tap club on campus. Chung Mungs are known to be the women who do everything around campus, but are rarely given credit for all of their hard work. They are known for achievements scholastically and socially. They are often seen as one of the more prestigious clubs on campus since there are only 13 members annually. Their symbol is the ghost so it is fitting that the Chung Mungs conduct the campus Ghost Tours every Halloween. They also organize trick-or-treating in the dorms and hall decorating contests. Their rival tap club is Tau Phi. Chung Mungs are one of the four main tap clubs and their colors are black and white.

The Earphones are not known for singing on key. They are, however, often seen at sporting events, cheering on the Vixens, and singing happy birthday to people on campus. The earphones put on a half note show every fall and spring for those girls who were recently tapped. Often recognized as being some of the loudest girls on campus, their rival tap club is Sweet Tones and their colors are orange and yellow.

Falls on Nose
FoN is a relatively new tap club on campus, focused on volunteerism. Their rival tap club is Taps 'n Toes and their colors are blue and black.

Paint 'N' Patches
Sweet Briar's oldest tap club, founded in 1910. PnP is composed of theater enthusiasts, both actors and technical staff. PnP has the largest budget of any club on campus (excluding Campus Events), because it sponsors theater productions. The rival tap club is the Aints 'N' Asses and their colors are purple and green.

The QVs are elected by their class at the end of freshman year. The main purpose of the QVs is to encourage sophomore class spirit — during the year they will do secret "drops" (small gifts of candy and presents) for their fellow sophomores. Sophomore QVs are completely anonymous except to current and former QVs. The QVs rival tap club is the Bum Chums. QVs are one of the four main tap clubs and their colors are green and black.

Sweet Tones
The only tap club with auditions, the Sweet Tones are Sweet Briar's a capella singing group. Sweet Tones traditionally sings at the yearly Christmas tree lighting ceremony and performs at some admissions weekends in addition to biannual concerts. Their rival tap club is the Earphones and their colors are purple and white.

Taps 'N' Toes
TnT is the tap club for dance enthusiasts. Participation in two or more dance concerts is required to be considered for membership. They put on the two dance concerts during the year (one in the fall and one in the spring). Their rival tap club is Falls on Nose and their colors are pink and black.

Tau Phi
Tau Phis are academic and erudite. There was, at one point, a GPA requirement to be tapped as a Tau Phi. This was dropped in recent years, due to new policies regarding access to student academic records. Their rival tap club is the Chung Mungs. Tau Phi is one of the four main tap clubs and their colors are red and black.

BAM is the newest tap club at Sweet Briar. The members do community service on campus by recognizing the hard work of all members of the Sweet Briar community including, faculty, staff and students. BAM does not have a rival tap club. Their colors are pink and blue.

Campus life

Sweet Briar is a residential campus, and nearly all students live on campus during their time at SBC. [14] There are 7 standard dormitories, and more independent living available in Patteson House and the Music Box, available to upperclasswomen. The school has over fifty clubs and organizations.

The Honor Code

Sweet Briar women do not lie, cheat, steal or violate the rights of others. Therefore I pledge to uphold all standards of honorable conduct. I will report myself and others for any infraction of this pledge.

At Sweet Briar, the Honor Code pervades every aspect of everyday life. First-years are required to memorize the pledge and take a test on it before they are allowed to hand in and Pledge any academic work. All academic work must be Pledged, and the consequences for violating that pledge are severe. Because of the high standards held by the honor code at Sweet Briar, students are able to take unproctored, self-scheduled exams. This is one privilege that distinguishes Sweet Briar from other colleges. The Honor Code has non-academic applications as well.


Its sports teams are known as the Vixens. Sweet Briar is a member of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference. Sweet Briar has 7 Varsity Sports: Field Hockey, Lacrosse, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Tennis and Volleyball. Sweet Briar has Fencing as a club sport.

Students also participate in recreational sports through the Sweet Briar Outdoor Program (SWEBOP). SWEBOP organizes many trips throughout the year including hiking, fly fishing, caving, rock climbing and weekly kayaking and skiing.[15]


The school operates a horseback riding program,[16] which focuses on show and field hunters, huntseat equitation, and show jumping. The school has 7 riding teams. These include a jumper team, hunter show team, JV hunter show team, Affiliated National Riding Commission (ANRC) team, field team, and Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) team. As part of its program, students can study for an Equine Studies Certificate.[16]

Accolades include 10 ANRC Team reserve national championships titles, and 9 ANRC Team national championship titles. Sweet Briar individuals have been reserve ANRC national champions 6 times, and national champions 9 times.

In addition, in 2006, Sweet Briar's IHSA team won their region (Zone 4, Region 1), and placed second at Zones, qualifying them for the Nationals Competition. The team placed third overall, with Jodie Weber '06 claiming a fourth overall in the Cacchione Cup competition. In 2008, Sweet Briar IHSA won their region again, and proceeded to Nationals, where team members collected individual ribbons.[17]

Notable people



  • Victor Henningsen, former president of the Board of Trustees
  • Jo Ellen Johnson Parker, President, Sweet Briar College


Current Faculty

  • Lincoln P. Brower, Research Professor of Biology, leading authority on the Monarch Butterfly
  • Carrie Brown, English Professor, novelist
  • John Gregory Brown, English Professor, novelist
  • Barbara A. Perry, Carter Glass Professor of Government, Author, National Media Commentator

Previous Faculty

See also


  1. ^ Sweet Briar Names 10th President Sweet Briar College. Retrieved on July 15, 2009.
  2. ^ History Sweet Briar College. Retrieved on 2008-06-06.
  3. ^ a b "SBC Current Ratings"
  4. ^ "Sweet Briar Ranks in U.S. News' Top 100 Liberal Arts Colleges"
  5. ^ "U.S. News Ranks SBC in Top 100 of Liberal Arts Colleges"
  6. ^ "Sweet Briar College Scores High in Rankings."
  7. ^ a b "Sweet Briar Makes Princeton Review Top-20 Lists." SBC News 2006.
  8. ^ a b "Sweet Briar College Makes Five Top-20 Lists in Princeton Review." SBC News 2005.
  9. ^ a b "Sweet Briar Receives High Marks in Princeton Review Survey Results," SBC News 2004.
  10. ^ "Sweet Briar College Scores High in Rankings." SBC News 2003.
  11. ^ "Sweet Briar in "Top 20" Lists of Princeton Review." SBC News 2002.
  12. ^ Student Traditions Sweet Briar College. Retrieved on 2008-06-06.
  13. ^ Tap Clubs Sweet Briar College. Retrieved on July 15, 2009.
  14. ^ Residence Life Sweet Briar College. Retrieved on 2008-06-06.
  15. ^ Outdoor Programs –SWEBOP Sweet Briar College. Retrieved on 2008-06-06.
  16. ^ a b Riding Sweet Briar College. Retrieved on 2008-06-06
  17. ^

External links

Coordinates: 37°33′22.8″N 79°4′49.3″W / 37.556333°N 79.080361°W / 37.556333; -79.080361


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