Sweet Briar College president stepping down

AMHERST CO., Va. (WDBJ7) Sweet Briar College's president says he's stepping down from his post. He took the position less than a year ago after the college almost shut down.

President Phillip Stone led Sweet Briar during one of its most difficult times. After a failed attempt to shut the school down, Stone scrambled to open its doors on time for the fall semester. Now that the transition is done, he says it's time for a new permanent leader.

Saturday, Sweet Briar's board celebrated what they called a miracle.

Teresa Tomlinson, Sweet Briar College Chairwoman, said, “We have exceeded our expectations, people. We have exceeded them by far.”

The college says they met court settlement terms, re-established sports teams, passed a budget and haven't touched their endowment. The school already raised more than $6 million in their newest fundraising campaign. Board chairwoman Teresa Tomlinson says a lot of the credit goes to its president.

"No one can say that he has done anything short of the most tremendous, miraculus job,” she said.

Phillip Stone took the position as a temporary president after people wondered whether the school would reopen.

Phillip Stone, Sweet Briar College President said, "That was phase one. You got it done. The women of Sweet Briar, the faculty, staff, students and parents, saved this college."

Now, he's working through phase two: helping the school get back on its feet. Stone will be stepping down by the end of June 2017. That way, the next permanent president can handle phase three: a long-term plan.

"Our goal is to be the Sweet Briar of our visions, the Sweet Briar of our dreams, and it's going to have to be a vision that stretches us,” Stone said.

The long-tem vision may not be clear now, but his confidence is.

"We are going to go great places,” he said. “We are going to be strong and beautiful and flourish together.”

The board and president will also create a land management plan for the 3200 acre campus. The next president is expected to be in place by July 2017.