President History | Webster University

President History

Julian Z. Schuster, Ph.D.


President Julian SchusterJulian Z. Schuster was named Webster University’s 12th president in 2019. He has promoted strategic investment in global academic excellence, pioneered international alliances and stewarded resources for new locations, and academic and administrative initiatives. Schuster originally joined Webster as provost in 2010; under his leadership in that role as well as the senior vice president and chief operating officer he championed and resourced initiatives to promote global academic excellence.  Under his leadership, scholarly and artistic accomplishments of faculty members have increased significantly, and the first endowed professorship in the institution’s history has been appointed. He launched Webster’s first comprehensive academic program review and prioritization process, which led to the development of new academic units, increased STEM-related programs, and a renewed focus on the institution’s unique ability to provide international experiences. 

President Schuster holds bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in economics from the University of Belgrade, one of the oldest and largest universities in the western Balkans. In addition to English and his native Serbian/Croatian, he speaks Russian, Slovak, Macedonian and Bulgarian and reads in six additional languages. Dr. Schuster is a graduate of the Institute for Management and Leadership in Education (MLE) at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and completed Harvard’s executive program in Crisis Leadership in Higher Education.

Elizabeth (Beth) J. Stroble, Ph.D.


President Elizabeth Stroble PhDElizabeth (Beth) J. Stroble was named president of Webster University in 2009, and was appointed chancellor in 2019 to reflect the private university's growth as a global, multi-campus system.

Since her arrival, Webster has advanced global academic excellence through strategic investments in new facilities and technology infrastructure; completed $55 million campaign and saw it through to successful completion even with a challenging economy; expanded partnerships locally and globally; enhanced the institution's reputation; strengthened academic programs and services for students here and internationally; and developed leadership and recruited additional talent among faculty, staff, and administrators.

President Stroble earned a bachelor's degree in history and English from Augustana College and two masters of arts degrees, one in history and one in American and English literature, both from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. She received her doctorate in curriculum studies from the University of Virginia, Charlottesville.

Richard S. Meyers, Ph.D.


Dr. Richard S. MeyersRichard S. Meyers served as Webster University's president from 1994 to 2008. He was known for his collaborative leadership and innovative thinking in the educational world. During his 14 years of service at Webster University, he was responsible for significant increases in the University's endowment, its enrollment and its expansion to dozens of worldwide campus locations. Meyers is also credited with establishing the University's worldwide community service day, Webster Works Worldwide.

Meyers received a bachelor's degree in music education at De Paul University, a master's degree in music education at the University of Southern California and completed his doctorate in instructional technology with a minor in psychology at the University of Southern California.

Daniel H. Perlman, Ph.D.


Daniel PerlmanDaniel H. Perlman was appointed as president of Webster University in 1990 and served until 1994. Perlman is known for working hard for the expansion of the university. He is credited with the building of the University Center, renovations of the H. Sam Priest Center for International Studies and Webster Hall. An expansion of the Loretto-Hilton Center and the Visual Arts Studio were completed under his direction as well. Two buildings were constructed on the Geneva, Switzerland campus during his time with the institution. Perlman's dynamic and ambitious vision for the university have become ingrained in the modern perspective Webster University takes when viewing the world of academics.

Perlman received bachelor's degrees from both Shimer College in 1954 and The University of Chicago in 1955. He also obtained a master's degree from the University of Chicago in 1956 and received his doctorate from The University of Chicago in 1971.

Leigh Gerdine, Ph.D.


Dr. Leigh GerdineLeigh Gerdine served as president of Webster College/University from 1970-1990. Under his guidance the college transformed into a co-educational university with campuses all over the world. He is credited for making the concept of a repertory theatre and an opera theatre a reality in the St. Louis area, with their homes being established on the Webster campus. Most notably, Gerdine was able to eliminate the college's debt and turn the University into a fiscally sound institution.

Gerdine received a bachelor of arts degree from the University of North Dakota in 1938. He continued his education at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar where he received a bachelor's degree in music in 1940, and completed his doctorate at the University of Iowa in 1941.

Jacqueline Grennan Wexler


Jacqueline Grennan WexlerSister Jacqueline Grennan Wexler became president of Webster College in 1965 and served until 1969. She is known for pressing Webster University to embrace fundamental change in admissions, curriculum and governance. Wexler's most lasting contribution was facilitating the transfer of Webster College to the control of a lay board of trustees in 1967. This removed the institution from ownership by the religious community and effectively made the school a "legally secular" institution. Webster College was the first Roman Catholic institution to legally separate from the church.

Wexler received a bachelor of arts degree in mathematics from Webster College in 1948 and was awarded a master's degree in English by the University of Notre Dame in 1957.

Sister Francetta Barberis


Sister Francetta BarberisSister Francetta Barberis served as the Webster College president from 1958-1965. During her time at Webster College, the institution enjoyed a great amount of growth and expansion. New buildings completed during her tenure include the Loretto-Hilton Center, made possible through the gifts and pledges of Conrad N. Hilton, a five-story residence building and a cafeteria-dining room. In addition, she initiated the "Teacher Education Program" and helped to acquire project and capital grants totaling more than $3 million.

Sister Francetta Barberis received a bachelor of arts degree from Loretto Heights in 1929 and a master's degree in french from Notre Dame in 1941.

Sister Mariella Collins


Sister Mariella CollinsSister Mariella Collins was named Interim President in 1948, but after Donovan's resignation in 1950, she was given the full title of President. She helped push for several important university initiatives which included establishing the admissions office, exploring study abroad opportunities for students and acquiring a federal grant that led to the construction of Maria Hall. Prior to joining Webster College, Sister Mariella Collins acted as principal for Nerinx High School.

Sister Mariella Collins obtained a bachelor of arts degree from Loretto Heights College in 1932 and received a master's degree from Saint Louis University in 1941.

George Donovan, Ph.D.

(1931–1950; on leave 1948–1950)

Dr. George DonovanGeorge Donovan, the college's first male president, served the university from 1931-1950. Donovan was also one of the first presidents who focused on bringing speakers to campus to talk about current events and international affairs. After leaving the university, he went on to head educational and cultural affairs programs for the United States in post-war Germany.

Donovan received his bachelor of arts degree from Boston College, a master's degree from Harvard University and doctorate from Saint Louis University.

Sister M. Linus Maier


Sister Linus MaierM. Linus Maier was appointed president of Webster College in 1925 and served until 1931. She entered the Loretto Convent at the age of 20 and was a nun for 73 years. During her tenure with Webster College, Maier worked tirelessly to help establish the Loretto Foundation which helped to support the work of the Sisters of Loretto. Under her supervision, Loretto Hall was built in 1929, largely financed by the Loretto Foundation she had helped to create.

Mother M. Linus Maier received a bachelor of arts from Creighton University and completed her master's degree at Denver University.

Sister M. Edith Loughran


Sister Edith LoughranMother M. Edith Loughran served as president for Webster and Loretto College from 1919-1925. During her tenure the University's first gymnasium known as "Idle Hour", was constructed.  In addition, she helped Webster obtain membership in the North Central Association and also added valuable courses to the curriculum, including classes in journalism, physical education and millinery.

Mother M. Edith Loughran graduated with a bachelor of arts degree from Loretto College in 1920.


Mother M. Dolorine Powers


Mother M. Dolorine PowersMother M. Dolorine Powers became Superior, or President, of Loretto College in 1916 upon completion of Webster Hall in Webster Groves, Mo. Loretto College opened with eight Sisters of Loretto teaching class for five students. Two students populated the first graduating class in 1919.

Mother M. Dolorine Powers was educated by the Sisters of Loretto in Florissant, Mo.

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