In the News: Akande, Cross on Ferguson; Alum’s multicultural experience; CMS Alarm Will Sound; Belsky on Today show; Alum on Robin Williams

| August 15, 2014

Recent and news media coverage involving Webster University community members includes:

Communications Alum’s Testament to Cultural Experience at Webster Thailand

Charles McKinney, who studied and lived in Asia while earning a master’s degree in media communications from Webster University in Thailand, has an essay on his experiences at the National Journal titled “An African-American Student Experiences a Different Kind of Diversity in Southeast Asia.”

Attending graduate school in Southeast Asia is something I never dreamed of doing. While I knew I wanted to study abroad, I never contemplated earning my entire degree in a foreign country. But it was the best decision I could have made, both professionally and personally. I wanted to be immersed in a completely new culture in a booming region of the world I had never visited. As a result of this experience, I am more culturally intelligent, global-minded, and ready to launch a vocation that will enable me to keep globetrotting.

Read his full story at the National Journal here.

Akande in Business Journal on Conversations Needed after Violence in Ferguson

This week’s St. Louis Business Journal includes a column, “Painful scars: Lessons from Ferguson, Missouri,” by Benjamin Akande, dean of the George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology and head of Webster’s Office of Corporate Partnerships.

City riots consistently have devastating consequences, particularly on the financially vulnerable.


A friend of mine, who is a respected community leader, told me that, sadly, the events of this past weekend fuel an unfair perception of African-Americans and young black males. He said it also highlights a need to tackle an underlying problem so history doesn’t repeat itself and undermine the hard work and financial sacrifices of the peaceful majority.

“The region needs to have an honest conversation about race that will be uncomfortable,” he said.

See the column in this week’s Business Journal or read the full text here.

Cross Discusses Sociology of Protests and Police Action in Ferguson

Remy Cross, assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology & Sociology in the College of Arts & Sciences, has studied domestic political activities that turned violent and is working on a sociological study of the neighborhoods of the St. Louis metro area. NBC affiliate KSDK-TV had him on to discuss the on-going protests, recent violence, and show of police force in Ferguson, Missouri.

Watch the clip embedded above or at this link at KSDK.

Community Music School Project with Alarm Will Sound

The joint project between new music Alarm Will Sound and the Community Music School of Webster University is featured at New Music Box.

The project is giving student musicians ages K-12 the opportunity to learn about and perform the work of living composers, experiment with extended instrumental techniques, and more.

The program has now been formalized as a regular class that will meet every two weeks beginning this fall. Alarm Will Sound members will continue to come to St. Louis once a month to teach the group, with CMS instructors using the alternate sessions to answer questions, review concepts, and practice techniques and repertoire.

Read the full story and watch clips here.

Belsky Appears on Today Show

Andrew Belsky, head coach of the Webster University men’s golf team, was featured on NBC’s “Today” show on Aug. 11 for his success at losing weight. Belsky, who coached the golf team to the 2014 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) Championship and was named the SLIAC 2014 Coach of the Year, was highlighted because he lost 105 pounds using the bistroMD weight loss program.

Belsky said a tipping pint came when his weight began affecting his back and his golf game.

On the show, he said the lifestyle change “changed my life around. I have my life back.” Watch the clip of the segment at this direct video link at

Apple Selects Alum’s Photo for Robin Williams Tribute
de Boer's photo of Robin Wiliams

Webster alumnus Maarten de Boer recalled the warmth of Robin Williams when he sat for portraits in 2009. Apple used one of the photos in its tribute to the late actor and comedian.

On Tuesday evening, Apple devoted a page on their site to the memory of actor and comedian Robin Williams, who died earlier this week. The photo used was taken by Webster University graduate Maarten de Boer, who recalls what a warm subject Williams was.

The photo was taken in 2009. de Boer remembers being nervous but says that Williams was able to put him at ease. “I remember him being so soft spoken and kind,” de Boer said. “He was wonderful, funny and real. I didn’t ask much of him during our brief shoot, I just wanted to capture him as he was in that moment.

“It’s a truly sad event, he has affected so many people over the course of his career and now with his passing. He will be missed,” said de Boer. “I am truly humbled by the fact that with all the thousands of amazing images of the late Robin Williams, they chose mine to honor him. I’m in awe.”

For more on Maarten de Boer, see this Webster feature from earlier in 2014. The article looked at his early career path and his experiences with celebrity photography.

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Category: Advancement, Employee News, Faculty

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