Every rising senior who graduates from Sweet Briar College next spring should thank Vineyard resident Tracy Stuart for her diploma. Freshmen, sophomores and juniors at the college should thank her for their education too. And while they are at it, they might want to thank Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

When Ms. Stuart found out in March via Facebook that her alma mater would be closing at the end of the school year, she went to work. At the time she was a moderately active alumna who stayed in touch with classmates and remained connected to the school via social media alumnae groups. Four months later, after leading a successful fight to save the college that led all the way to the Virginia Supreme Court, she may go down in history as the school’s most important alumna.

Sweet Briar College is a 114-year-old women’s liberal arts college located in Sweet Briar, Va. It was founded in 1901 by Indiana Fletcher Williams, a wealthy Virginian. Mrs. Williams had a daughter named Daisy who died at the age of 16, and she planned the school in her memory. Upon Mrs. Williams’s death, she willed her entire estate, including her plantation home, to create Sweet Briar College.

Tracy Stuart graduated from Sweet Briar in 1993. — Jeanna Shepard

Back in March, the president of the school, James Jones, abruptly announced that the school would be closing at the end of the spring semester, citing insurmountable financial obstacles, despite a sizable $85 million endowment. Mr. Jones had been hired in the summer of 2014.

The college’s alumnae, led by Ms. Stuart, responded en masse.

“If your college called you up and said, hey, we are shutting the door, wouldn’t you do something?” Ms. Stuart said. Her initiative, which started on Facebook, quickly gained traction and spread across the country.

“Someone coined us the most famous college in America right now because of all the press and exposure,” said Ms. Stuart.

Ms. Stuart graduated from Sweet Briar College in 1993, where she was an All-American field hockey and lacrosse player. She worked in admissions at the school for two years after graduating, and had not returned to visit the school since. She now works as an independent real estate agent on the Vineyard. She identified six year-round Vineyard residents who are also Sweet Briar alumnae, a group that includes Emmy-nominated actress Diana Muldaur, who was raised and still resides on Martha’s Vineyard.

Phillip Stone, former president of Bridgewater College, will be the new president. — Jeanna Shepard

Following Mr. Jones’s announcement, Ms. Stuart retained lawyers William Hurd and Ashley Taylor, both partners at Troutman Sanders in Virginia.

“I asked them if this was something we could fight, and they said, ‘yes, I think you have a case here,’” she said. She also enlisted Eric Cote of Disaster Safety Strategies, a crisis communications expert in Providence, R.I. The combination of Ms. Stuart’s team of lawyers, public relations professionals and a group of tight knit alumnae posed a triple threat. They created a Saving Sweet Briar website where to date, $21 million in pledges has been recorded. She also gathered a board of directors spanning generations.

“I wanted to represent alumnae from as many decades as possible,” said Ms. Stuart.

The Saving Sweet Briar campaign focused its fight on the fact that the school was acting like a corporation instead of a trust (as per the will of Mrs. Williams). It had solicited funds from its constituents for continued operation as a school, but was now allocating those funds to close the school, which was not permissible by law. The school had also chosen not to notify any of its donor base about the change in plans for the money.

“They just made a decision in a back room and decided to shut down the college within a certain date without indicating to us as a group that they were having financial problems,” said Ms. Stuart.

Ms. Stuart and her allies won their case in circuit court in Virginia on June 22, thus saving the college and re-opening the doors for the next generation of Sweet Briar students. Phillip Stone, the former president of Bridgewater College, was appointed to serve as the new president of the college. Additional new leadership will continue to be put in place throughout the summer.

It’s been quite the turbulent trajectory for the students of Sweet Briar College, including incoming freshmen, whose plans to attend their dream school were momentarily put on hold by the closure announcement. Many chose to attend other colleges during the legal battle and so there are still uncertainties as to what size the freshman class will be, and what kinds of academic offerings will be available to enrolled students. A number of faculty, even some who had been offered tenure prior to legal battle, have since committed to other higher education institutions, the New York Times reported.

Patchwork staffing will be one of a number of challenges that the school will face in its upcoming academic year. Ms. Stuart will continue her efforts to help Sweet Briar reboot, by assisting with the school’s athletics and equestrian programs.

“According to the mediation agreement, we are now open in perpetuity,” she said.

For four months, Ms. Stuart has been solely focused on saving a school that is special to many. She ceased working as a real estate agent so that she could work full time on her pro bono efforts.

“It’s a college that is beloved by so many people that it didn’t seem right to me for them to close. It felt like they had made a bad decision by not reaching out to their alums. Not getting us involved was a big mistake on their part,” she said. “The good news is if anyone didn’t know what Sweet Briar was, they do now.”