Message from the President: Survey on two strategic goals

| October 26, 2010

A message to the Webster University community, from President Elizabeth (Beth) J. Stroble, surveying your views on two strategic priorities. The link to the survey is at the end of this post:

As we move forward in the fall semester, you may recall the two strategic priorities that I noted in my Fall Convocation address on August 19:

– To set a distinct standard for global education, and

– To be a university of first choice for military service students

While we have rightfully prided ourselves on our “firsts,” we must now also aspire to achieve “bests.” In this regard, no one else can define for us what it means to set a distinct standard for global education, a vision that we, as a community, describe in our Vision 2020 plan. No one else is as able as Webster to effect the distinct standard that we define. As we together face the fiercely competitive environment for higher education, it is my opinion that Webster University must perform at a very high level to achieve this bold vision.

Further, it is my goal that we will build a model of truly placing students first and this is reflected as we consider the unique needs of a specific population that we have served since the 1970s: the men and women who are currently active or veterans of military service. The challenge and opportunity we have is to be the institution of first choice for military service students, a population we have served for 36 years, providing an education of value that serves them for their lifetimes, in military service leadership and careers and afterward.

From a practical viewpoint, military personnel currently comprise 19% of our enrollments and 27% of our graduate headcount. They are a population with very specific needs among those at our very valuable extended U.S. sites. The competition is growing for serving this population, and I am convinced that this is an opportunity for us to be “the best.”

There are three questions associated with each of these priorities that Provost Schuster and I would like to ask the worldwide University community to address:

  1. What do we mean by “setting a distinct standard for global education” and “being a university of first choice for military service students”?
  2. What are the vehicles by which we could accomplish these goals?
  3. How would we assess our progress and accomplishments at the end of this year?

Please click on the link below to participate in the survey and offer your valuable insight and perspective on these two important goals by the end of the day on Friday, October 29.

While we will do our best to reach our students, please feel free to pass this along to any of your students who may be interested in participating. We value the input of each and every stakeholder at this University. Thank you in advance for your participation and your unique perspective on the future and vision of Webster University.

Go here to take the survey.

All the best,

Beth Stroble

Category: Presidential Messages

Comments (5)

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  1. Lynette W. Knight says:

    Academic Institutions at Military Installations are limited to the Programs that are on their Memos of Understanding.  No institution can offer Programs that other Instutions offer.  This is a limiting factor for Webster University to be the “Best Choice” for all interested military personnel.  Potential Military Students still make their choice for Academic Classes based on location, price, and how fast can they complete a Degree. 

    When the word, Global  is discussed in a Military On-Site Classroom, students will report, “We have lived Global in
    our Military Assignments.”

    Lynette W. Knight
    Sr. Director
    Luke AFB, AZ

  2. Carol Schwab says:

    What do we mean by and
    These two goals “setting a distinct standard for global education” and  “being a university of first choice for military service students” are not really related. 
    If global education means preparing students for global citizenship it is a very broad concept.  The work of the General Education Taskforce shows how difficult it is to define outcomes and reach an agreement on something that is not well defined.  At Webster this also applies primarily to undergraduate students.   I think we should position ourselves as a university with global opportunities for study and then work to expand the number options that are already available.
    Current and former military people tend to be focused and practical.  They have most often been involved in our graduate programs.  Studies in the past have indicated that the primary reason for choosing Webster is convenience, as in on site classes and  online options.  To remain attractive to these students we should build on our accessibility and emphasis on curriculum that combines theory and practice.  

  3. Warren Rosenblum says:

    Thoughts on setting “a distinct standard for global education”
    I think it is time to start applying the successful model of the Global MA programs in international relations and Business to undergraduate education. Why not have programs in which undergraduates come into Webster expecting to attend two or three or four different campuses in order to complete their academic requirements?

    One possible starting place is European studies. We could easily develop a program in which freshmen get a year-long introduction to European politics, culture, business and communication in St. Louis (or Geneva or Vienna), then travel as a cohort for two or three semesters at other campuses. More than just “study abroad,” we would have to offer them a curriculum at each campus structured to meet their academic needs, to further the sense of intellectual community, and to enrich their explorations of a new country.

    Other programs could follow. Consider a museum studies program, for example, in which undergrads know they’ll be visiting great exhibits and meeting curators in London, Leiden, and Beijing at various stages of their education; or a human rights program in which students progressively become familiar with NGO’s in various parts of the world.

    Each such program would have an impact on Webster going well beyond the 10-20 students who participate. Together they would change the culture: creating a greater sense of global awareness in St. Louis and an interconnected university worldwide.

  4. As I tell my students over and over in their writing: don’t tell me, show me.

    My background predisposes me to believe that what used to be called “internationalism” is the most significant thing that a student can acquire as an undergraduate.  Of course we will all have differing ideas of what this means.  The same goes for the term global.  I know what I mean by it but that does not mean that anyone shares the meaning with me.
    Setting that roadblock aside, it is impossible (in by opinion) to even begin to approach global education seriously without at least second language learning, cross cultural emphases across and throughout the curriculum and repeated opportunities and requirements for cultural immersion opportunities. 

    We are a university that seems dead set on “real world experiences.”  It is hard for me to take such a discussion seriously when our definition of “real world” never gets outside of Saint Louis and seldom demands that students cross borders, whether geographic, national, cultural, political or social.

  5. Maureen Gisiger says:

    What do we mean by setting a distinct standard for global education?
    We need to adjust our courses in taking into consideration cross-cultural communication and best practices that work across cultures in order to create distinct standards of education that will work in today’s global environment. We need to have the most updated technology, especially in our computer courses offered, and encourage innovation.
    What do we mean by being a university of first choice for military students? We mean offering courses that attract military students by having specific courses they can apply to the environment they are in for example focused on teamwork, leadership, etc, and having this accessible to them wherever they may be located around the world. This also means being flexible with time zones and downloading constraints that they may encounter if taking an on-line course.
    The vehicles we could use by which we could accomplish the first goal are cross cultural awareness programs, research into cross cultural best practices, investing in current technology and standardizing these through syllabus collectors for each department.
    The vehicles to accomplish the second are assessing the needs of our military students and creating an officers training program highlighting teamwork, global leadership and management courses. Possibly having helpdesks in Europe and Asia in case of problems with on-line courses would be something to think about.
    To assess our progress and accomplishments, we must first assess where we are now possibly by taking a survey of our military students and collecting best practices from various campuses. Then create a plan of action on how we can progress and setting smart goals. Then we must evaluate our progress along the way.
    These are my thoughts and perspectives. Thank you.