Meet Julian Schuster

| August 20, 2010

Julian Schuster, provost and senior vice president.

Elated to be Here

Inside Webster recently sat down with Julian Schuster, the University’s new provost and senior vice president, to get to know him better and hear his thoughts on his new position.

IW – In your interview with the faculty, you said that when you applied for this position you weren’t necessarily looking for a job but for a place where you would fit.

Absolutely that was the case. Although it’s natural to contemplate what you are going to do next, when I learned about the position at Webster I was not actively in the job market. What intrigued me, first and foremost, was Webster’s global orientation and, secondly, the focus on students and providing educational opportunities to those who otherwise could not get them. So I decided to throw my hat in the ring. Once you do that, then it is a contest and whenever you enter the contest, it’s prudent to give it your best shot. Through the process I learned more and more about Webster and this path of discovery is still happening.

IW – Had you heard of Webster before you came?

JS – Yes. Webster is, relatively speaking, known in the region of the former Yugoslavia where I still have a lot of friends. There are many students from Croatia and Serbia who are now proud Webster alumni, and I did hear about Webster. But I can’t say I was very familiar with the institution, although it is just 500 miles down the Mississippi River from Minneapolis/St. Paul [where Hamline University is located]. As I said, my candidacy for the position was the route of discovery and everything I found reinforced my initial, mainly intuitive perception that this would be more than a good fit.

IW – Tell me about your background.

JS I was born in what is today known as the former Yugoslavia and completed my elementary, high school and university education in the capital city of Belgrade. My bachelor’s, master’s and PhD are in the field of economics.

My first job in 1983 was as a research associate, later a research fellow, with the Institute of the Economic Sciences in Belgrade, which was the first western-style, market-driven research institution in that city. Then in 1989, I moved to the States with my wife, who had received a scholarship to pursue her PhD from the University of Connecticut in Storrs.

Subsequently, the University of Connecticut offered me a visiting lectureship position, which I held from 1989-90. During that time, I also had teaching positions with the University of Hartford and Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn. In 1990, I joined the University of New Haven as assistant professor and grew through the ranks as chair of the Department of Economics and Finance, associate dean of the School of Business, interim dean and dean of the School of Business, as well as several other administrative posts. In 2006, I joined Hamline University in Minneapolis/St. Paul as dean of the graduate school of management, where I facilitated the formation of and became founding dean of the School of Business, my most recent position before coming to Webster.

Have any of your impressions about Webster changed in the few weeks since you’ve been on the job?

There is nothing iconic that I have found that would change my opinion about this wonderful opportunity. Recently I was jokingly telling President Stroble that the search process is like dating because you find everything good and you look good and everyone wants to look at you. Once you come to the job it is like a marriage, and you need to work on a marriage in order to succeed. There is nothing I did not see in the search process, but now things are becoming more visible and, of course, some things are ready to enjoy and some need attention and action. I’m still in the process of learning and this learning curve is going to be with me for quite a while.

What do you see as the biggest challenge ahead for you, and what are your long-term goals and plans?

The long-term goal is to use this incredible talent that we have here and — as a part of the overall strategy and Dr. Stroble’s leadership theme — to bring it all together and bring Webster to the next level. What the next level is for Webster University is a good question. And the answer is: the level that will enable us to be true to our vision, mission and values, always with the focus of serving our students better. This is an ever-evolving path. As I am having my personal path of discovery, we are all together as Webster University on this beautiful road having our own discoveries. Our story is an ever-changing one but always based on the timeless values we have.

Is your wife here with you?

No, she and our 8-year-old son, Alexander, are currently vacationing in the old country — now countries — visiting grandparents so that Alex familiarizes himself with the place where both his parents grew up and spent a substantial part of their lives.

Any last thoughts?

I am just absolutely elated to be here. Webster has means and talents to achieve multiple objectives, which will become the trademark of Webster, and they are not going to be competing ends. They are going to be complimentary objectives that are going to enhance each other — not substitute for each other.

I think Webster is well positioned to respond to and seize the momentum and move to new heights characterized by absolute excellence in everything we do.

Category: Webster News

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