Message from President Beth Stroble and Provost Julian Schuster

| December 7, 2011

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students:

As we continue to work together to advance the bold and visionary mission of Webster University, we want to update you on our recent progress and share Board of Trustees news.

In Fall 2009 I introduced a pyramid metaphor to communicate the necessity of employing a systems perspective to address our opportunities and challenges.

Webster University’s complexities as well as changes introduced in the last two years prompted me to revisit the pyramid and replace it with a prism – a more engaging concept that better reflects Webster’s dynamic world.

In that light, Provost Julian Schuster and I would like to review some of the year’s accomplishments from the vantage point of the prism’s six interacting themes:

Serving Students

We met and exceeded our goal for new first time freshmen and welcomed 478 to the freshman class this fall, a 12% increase over last year.  Not only are we building more predictably strong entering classes in terms of numbers, we are also growing in academic quality, with the strongest combined GPA and ACT scores since 2006. Equally important is our increase in retention rates, where we compare very favorably with our peers, and our increase in diversity, with 142 countries represented by our freshman and transfer students.

Other highlights of Serving Students include:

  • A new Counseling Training Center in Geneva
  • The evolution of the Student Ambassador Program
  • New truly interactive Admissions Welcome Center
  • New Commuter Lounge, as requested in the Spring 2010 Delegate’s Agenda
  • New Loretto Hall Courtyard
Strengthening Academic Programs

Playing the new Steinways

At the last Board of Trustees meeting, the Board voted unanimously to endorse the plan for “Academic Programs and Services Review and Prioritization:  An Overview of Purpose, Participants, Process and Timeline, Academic Year 2011-2012.”

Other highlights of our efforts to Strengthen Academic Programs include:

  • The development of the new core curriculum: The Global Citizenship Program
  • Becoming one of 123 colleges and universities in the world to be an All Steinway School
  • Launching the Center for the Advancement of Women and Diversity in Business at Leiden – the first in Webster’s worldwide network
  • First celebration of Webster’s Teaching Festival, a weeklong series of events organized by the Faculty Development Center. The second festival will be February 20-23, 2012.
  • The establishment of the Endowed Professorship in French and Francophone Studies, made possible by a $1 million gift from alumna Jane Robert and her husband, Bruce.
  • New academic programs in Forensic Accounting, BFA in Concert Design, and an RSN to BSN partnership with BJC Health Systems.
Investing in Infrastructure, Financial Resources and Fund Raising

East Academic Building Construction on Schedule, on Budget

Work continues in December as the East Academic Building nears completion.

Also at the most recent Board meeting, the Building & Infrastructure Committee reported that the new academic building is on schedule and within budget. Faculty and staff will move in early January, and pilot classes will be held during Spring I to identify any issues. The building will be in full use during Spring II.

Other highlights in Infrastructure, Finance and Fund Raising include:

  • Improvements to Sverdrup Building will continue as space is alleviated thanks to the East Academic Building.
  • The board unanimously approved an additional $1,969,282 to fund IT upgrades in the East Academic Building and to fund upgrades in the campus IT infrastructure.
  • Development Committee chair Jerry Ritter reported that membership in the Daniel Webster Society has reached an all-time high of 255.
  • Webster saw its second bond ratings increase since 2009, with upgrades by both Moody’s and Fitch.
Enhancing Reputation and Strategic Communications

To enhance our reputation and begin to tell a unified Webster University story worldwide, we integrated the Marketing and Public Affairs Administrative Departments in St. Louis. Under the leadership of Barbara O’Malley, Associate Vice President and the University’s first Chief Communications Officer, the departments have been reorganized for integrated marketing success into the Global Marketing and Communications Unit.

The new unit, divided into Creative Services; Digital Marketing and Communications; Strategic Communications; and Public Relations is working in tandem to tell the stories of Webster’s campus locations from around the world. We have been rolling out a new Webster University Brand Platform built upon our previous image enhancement work. This has helped us to lay the foundation for a new Webster University creative image and website which you will learn more about in 2012.

Enhancing our reputation is about more than being recognized. It is about having excellent academic and administrative programs. We have a strong foundation to build upon, including these recognitions:

Regional and National Recognition

  • Nationally-ranked university in U.S. News & World Report
  • Military Friendly School by G.I. Jobs Magazine
  • Yellow Ribbon school offering maximum benefits under the VA’s program
  • Top School for military students by Military Advanced Education Magazine
  • Recognized for the diversity of our graduate students obtaining degrees by Diverse Issues in Higher Education
  • Webster’s Study Abroad programs rank in the top 2 percent of the 1,600 colleges and universities surveyed in the “America’s Best Colleges” 2012 edition of U.S. News & World Report
  • Nurse Anesthesia and RN to BSN programs received national rankings in U.S. News & World Report
  • Recognized as a “Great College to Work for” by the Chronicle of Higher Education
  • Recognized by the St. Louis Regional Commerce and Growth Association (RCGA) as a top 50 organization
Enhancing Partnerships Locally and Globally

Webster is distinctive in its longstanding commitment to global engagement. We continue to prosper by serving our local communities and helping students understand and experience our global interconnections.

The Office of Corporate Partnerships was created to strengthen and initiate corporate partnerships and create opportunities for individuals and programs within each of the five colleges as well as university administrative units.

Just a sampling of current partners includes Eden Theological Seminary, Webster Groves School District, and BJC, while new global partners range from China to Hungary, Slovakia to the Ukraine. Our goals for the coming year include forging new partnerships on several continents and strengthening existing local relationships with Webster Groves Schools and the RCGA, among others.

Finally, we are strengthening our long standing partnership with the military as we strive to become the first choice for active duty men and women, veterans, and their families. Key initiatives this year included establishing a Military Affairs Advisory Committee and opening a search for an Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs & Senior Director for Military and Government Sector Programs.

Investing in Human Resources

Of course, none of these accomplishments would be possible without a talented and dedicated workforce.

The University continued to invest in this valuable asset by:

  • Beginning implementation of the recommendations from the Mercer Compensation Study
  • Hiring new faculty – bringing the number of full-time faculty to 200, complementing more than 1,500 practitioner faculty worldwide
  • Awarding $90,000 for faculty scholarship
  • Providing $600,000 in professional development to improve teaching
  • Investing $40,000 for staff development in addition to funding by departments and offices
  • Launching the Webster Wellness Campaign
  • Providing employee tuition benefit, resulting in 73 new degrees earned by employees and family members
Looking Forward

Remarkably, these are just some of the achievements all of us – throughout Webster — have contributed to in the past year. There is much more to look forward to and much more to do as we continue to move Webster forward. Goals for the next year include:

  • Launching the Global Citizenship Program for our 2012 incoming class
  • Implementing a new website design and architecture
  • Executing the creative expression of our new brand platform
  • Completing our comprehensive fund raising campaign
  • Maintaining our 5.5 percent operating margin
  • Continuing new program development that is responsive to student/market needs
  • Conducting academic and administration program review and prioritization
  • Establishing the first class of the Global Leaders in Residence
  • Maintaining our retention and graduation rates
  • Implementing the next steps of the Mercer Compensation Study
  • Launching the Global Leadership Academy

… and much, much more, which we will expand on during the Spring Convocation Jan. 10, 2012.

Webster is such a dynamic, complex University, which is why we have taken this systems approach to improving it and leveraging our strengths. These same attributes are what make it such an exciting place at which to learn, to lead and to work. We thank you for all of your wonderful contributions and look forward to many more in 2012.

Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season,

Beth Stroble and Julian Schuster

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    Category: Employee News, Faculty, Presidential Messages, Student Affairs and News

    Comments (2)

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    1. Mikels Skele says:

      I don’t see anything about improving compensation and other conditions for adjunct faculty, which is what I assume you mean by practitioner faculty. I find this very disappointing, considering that the above seems to imply very little reduction on reliance on these second-class teachers.

    2. Barbara O'Malley, Chief Communications Officer says:

      Mr. Skele, thank you very much for the comment. Our adjunct faculty members bring valuable professional experience and real-world knowledge to our students. Next steps in the Mercer Compensation Study include adjunct faculty compensation review. More information regarding this will be announced during the Spring Convocation scheduled for January 10, 2012.