Tracy Stuart, Visionary Leader: Unlikely Heroine of Sweet Briar College

Tracy Stuart, Visionary Leader: Unlikely Heroine of Sweet Briar College

  • Case
  • Teaching Notes

Tracy Stuart learned through a Facebook post that her college alma mater was closing its doors in two months. With essentially no warning, she wondered how this could happen to a college with a USD 85 million endowment. Instead of waiting for someone else to take action, she stepped up to lead the effort to save Sweet Briar College. Stuart spearheaded a legion of alumnae volunteers (known as Vixens), instigated social media fundraising, and hired a law firm, public relations specialists in crisis communications, and accounting experts to review the financial records of the institution. Within three months, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that the current Board of Directors was not authorized to close the school. This case encourages students to explore the role of leadership, how leaders respond to calls for action, how women lead differently from men, and the cultivation of leadership skills in college. Students are also encouraged to explore the role of gender-specific education in the context of today’s leadership gender gap.

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