An Endowed Fund At A Glance

The Jane M. and Bruce P. Robert Endowed Professorship in French and Francophone Studies

Jane Robert has stated on numerous occasions that the defining point in her life was her year-long study trip in Paris, made possible by a scholarship arranged by the late Webster University Professor Jacques Chicoineau. This turning point helped shape Jane’s professional and personal initiatives. A dedicated philanthropic leader serving on the College of Arts & Sciences Advisory Board and long-time DWS member, Jane began her collegiate studies at Webster University, earning her BA in French Language and Literature in 1969.

Her studies in France paired with her robust career pursuits as educator and as a cultural and civic leader are the mainstays of the financial support that that Jane and her husband Bruce have provided to Webster University for the past 20+ years, including their creation of an International Relations thesis prize, and their decision to establish Webster’s first endowed professorship through a $1 million pledge in 2010. “People who are donors do not give money away, they invest,” Jane has said of her giving. “We felt that every dollar we gave [to Webster] would come back a thousand-fold, with good students and good citizens in the community.” Completing this endowment in 2014, Jane and Bruce have brought Jane’s sentiment to life by means of the work made possible through the Jane M. and Bruce Robert Endowed Professorship in French and Francophone Studies.

What is an endowed professorship?
Established through designated major gifts, Webster’s endowed faculty positions are a means of selectively developing, promoting and recognizing excellence in teaching, research and scholarship to enhance the quality of higher education.

What is the Endowed Professorship Investment Threshold?
$1 million (can be pledged by an individual or through a group investment for collective impact)

What was Jane’s primary goal?
To attract to Webster an academic with a primary expertise in French and francophone studies, to include French language and the literature and culture of France and other francophone countries. The Robert Professor also has a secondary academic expertise that will contribute to a complementary academic priority of the College of Arts & Sciences, such as human rights, international relations, history, or women’s studies.

Where does Jane’s financial gift go?
Income from an endowed chair/professorship/deanship may be used for compensation and/or teaching/research support, including course development, travel, research, graduate assistants, equipment and library resources or other purposes as approved by the designated University administrator.

What is the lifespan this type of gift?
In perpetuity

What has been the Impact of this gift?
Inaugural Robert Professor of French and Francophone Studies, Lionel Cuillé, has wholeheartedly embraced the directive of promoting French and Francophone culture at Webster University and in St. Louis since beginning his position in August 2012.

Since its creation under the leadership of Cuillé, Le Centre Francophone created an online hybrid course which concluded with a one week study trip in Nice, France, and a dual-credit partnership with Ritenour High School. The Center has brought numerous experts to lead discussions on topics of contemporary importance to French and francophone communities in a global context.

Cuillé has expanded the programming of Le Centre Francophone to include community engagement as well as human rights studies and awareness. From engaging Webster’s French students in the community by reading children’s books — in French — to young students of the St. Louis Language Immersion Schools, to sponsoring and hosting The International Art Exhibition of St. Louis – Lyon Sister Cities, Inc., the work of Le Centre Francophone is positioning Webster as a hub for French culture and engagement in the St. Louis region. Further shining a spotlight on his programming and the Webster French program, Cuillé is regularly asked to present as an expert by institutions such as the Missouri Historical Society and The 20th and 21st Century French and Francophone Studies International Colloquim in New York. When possible, Webster’s French students are invited to these engagements and introduced to dignitaries such as the Consul Général de France.

The financial support of the Robert Professorship, along with Webster and Jane Robert’s structural latitude for program development, have provided real freedom for Cuillé’s innovation and allowed for the Center to accomplish much in a short time, impacting both the intellectual lives of growing cohorts of Webster’s French students and countless others in the St. Louis community.

Interested in establishing a new endowed fund? Contact Francesca Curcuru, Director of Donor Relations & Philanthropic Communication, at 314-246-5948, or