A Georgia mayor who left $1 million to Sweet Briar in her will wasn't told the school was about to close

Teresa Tomlinson Mayor Columbus Georgia Sweet BriarFacebook/Teresa TomlinsonMayor Teresa Tomlinson

The Commonwealth of Virginia filed a lawsuit Monday to halt Sweet Briar College’s plans to close, and the state claims the all-women’s college kept on accepting gifts even as it was planning to shut its doors at the end of the semester.

The lawsuit specifically mentions a $US1 million estate gift from Teresa Tomlinson, who’s mayor of Columbus, Georgia and a Sweet Briar alumna.

“By including Sweet Briar in your estate plans, you have made a significant commitment to future generation of young women and to all that Sweet Briar can mean in their lives,” College president James Jones said in a note to Tomlinson sent in February.

Two weeks later Jones announced the school would be closing for good.

“My husband and I don’t have children and I don’t have nieces and nephews and so we have long planned on this being our legacy, our gift to Sweet Briar College, because we wanted it to go forward and continue with its great mission of educating women leaders,” Tomlinson said to Business Insider.

Letter Sweet BriarCounty Attorney Ellen BowyerAn exhibit in the lawsuit filed by the state.

But even after her $US1 million gift, Tomlinson says she was never notified that the college was in financial distress, or that Sweet Briar had already started the process of closure. She found out in the same way as everyone else, after President Jones held an assembly to break the news.

Tomlinson doesn’t believe there have been well-organised fundraising efforts to save the school by the administration, even though there are many able donors who are willing to step up with their support.

Sweet Briar sent Business Insider the following statement Monday afternoon after Virginia announced their lawsuit: “Our legal counsel has just received the complaint from the Amherst County Attorney and will respond appropriately after a chance for careful review and analysis.”

The college did not have additional comments on Tuesday.

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