Scholarship Dinner 2014

Good evening and welcome to Webster University's annual Scholarship Dinner.  Each spring, I look forward to this occasion when we celebrate together as a community and are reminded of the impact that scholarships have on the lives of our students. I hope you enjoyed the entertainment during the reception provided by 4 of our scholarship recipients:

  • TKT Scholars and Music majors Juan Acosta and
  • Jacob Stergos on bass,
  • Dre (DRAY) Concepcion on flute, and
  • Music major and Suzy Shepard Scholar Raphael Makarewicz on violin

Thank you for performing for us tonight.   

Each year we invite the donors and scholars of our Daniel Webster Society annual scholarships and endowed scholarships to celebrate the impact of philanthropic and academic excellence. I am proud that this year we are also welcoming and celebrating our Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence Scholars or SPICE Scholars, as well as the Presidential Scholars.

Who are the scholarship recipients among us tonight? The SPICE scholarship program acknowledges student chess and academic accomplishments such as superior tournament play, excellent scholastic chess community service, and outstanding academic record.

Beginning in 2014, the Presidential Scholarship Program will be exclusively underwritten by the individual support of Webster University’s Board of Trustees. As Webster’s highest academic award, Presidential Scholarships are awarded every year to five worthy freshman students, while the remaining semi-finalists receive a $1,000 scholarship for their participation in the rigorous selection process. This scholarship is renewable for a total of eight consecutive semesters upon maintenance of a 3.5 cumulative grade point average and through demonstrated leadership on campus, principally through successful participation in the WebsterLEADS program.

In 2007, we established the Daniel Webster Society annual scholarship program that allows donors to make annual contributions to help recruit and retain our students. For many, these scholarships determine whether or not students can pursue their education at Webster. Because of your generosity, nearly 100 students are benefitting in the current academic year from our annual scholarship program.

Equally significant, Webster’s 113 endowed scholarships meet a very real need for our students, this year supporting 212 students. The donors of our endowed scholarships give in this manner to support students in perpetuity. Often, these scholarships also help relieve some students of the financial imperative to secure additional employment, allowing them to devote more concentrated attention to their academic work.

In a very real way, these endowed scholarships are a permanent legacy for the namesakes of the scholarships and the lives of those who fund them, and are a stable and effective way to provide transformative educational opportunities for generations to come. Eighty-nine percent of Webster’s full-time freshman students receive financial aid in the form of loans and scholarship assistance.  So you can see, very clearly, that your support of endowed and annual scholarships meets a real need for Webster students.

Your continued generosity allows us to offer students new opportunities, not only in regard to the number of scholarships, but also through the amazing variety of scholarship opportunities, especially, of late, those with a focus on global citizenship.

The growing, special emphasis that Webster holds for global scholarship is encouraged by those who generously give to ensure that international students have access to the high quality scholarship opportunities that Webster provides, such as the The Lawrence Jehling Endowed Scholarship, The Marilynne Bradley Annual Indonesian Scholarship, and The Dr. Elizabeth Stroble Global Endowed Scholarship, the latter created by Webster University’s Board of Trustees.

Equally important to Webster’s emphasis on global citizenship is the number of scholarships with an emphasis in language and cultural immersion with a focus on U.S. students that you have generously supported, such as The Marianne E. and Peter A. Gleich Endowed Scholarship Funds for the Study of French Language and for Undergraduate Study Abroad Opportunities.

These funds have been generously inspired by the donors’ own richly diverse opportunities and desire to give back to ensure that future generations of students have the same critical opportunities to expand their own horizons as professionals by experiencing and working in cultures outside their own. Your generosity enhances Webster’s ability to continue to offer these exceptional educational opportunities to our dedicated students, whose future service will in turn transform the communities in which they work. What a wonderful investment in the global future!

As I am sure you know, scholarships make a tremendous difference to our students, in many ways. Rebecca Curl is a senior Wig and Makeup Design Major in our renowned Conservatory of Theatre Arts, and received the Robert G. Slowiak Memorial Endowed Scholarship this year. Rebecca, in thanking her donors, wrote of how both scholarship support and the distinct Webster University community has helped a girl from Chicago make a new home away from home in St. Louis, and set the stage for an exciting career in the theatre, film, television and the fashion industries.

“Ever since beginning at Webster University, I have felt so comfortable and accepted. I love the atmosphere and cannot picture myself attending any other college.  The Conservatory has already provided me with so many fantastic, life-changing opportunities, and I know that because of them, I will be able to experience so many more…

Having the opportunity to be so immersed in my art at such an early stage in my career has been life-changing for me.  With the donors’ scholarship, I will have less financial stress and be able to focus more on my passion.  Upon receiving this scholarship, I became both overjoyed and relieved, and I hope that this letter conveys my deep appreciation and gratitude for this fantastic opportunity that you have allowed me to have.  Thank you again for helping me achieve my dreams.”

We too, are enormously grateful for the support of our donors in helping to provide transformative educational opportunities for our talented scholars, as they work to achieve their dreams. Please join me in recognizing all of our scholarship donors. With gratitude, I think all of you who have been so generous – I hope you will enjoy learning more about the scholarships Webster provides.  Almost daily we are in conversation about new funding needs and legacies - we welcome these connections with you.

During dinner, I know the students at your tables will want to tell you about the opportunities and experiences that scholarship support has made possible for them. Also, our photographers will be coming around to your table to take photos. Copies of the photos taken this evening will be available at the registration tables after the dinner. After dinner, we will continue to celebrate and explore Webster’s culture of global citizenship through the words of our donors and scholars, and give you a taste of the exciting educational journeys that our students enjoy through our distinct Global Citizenship Curriculum. Please enjoy the meal and your conversations.

***

Hello again!  I hope you enjoyed this opportunity to get acquainted. As you heard me say earlier this evening and I know countless times in the past few years, as a key component of our mission, Webster has held for over its nearly 100 year history, but especially in the past five years, a growing, special emphasis on global citizenship.

We at Webster acknowledge, in our core values, that by educating a diverse population locally, nationally and internationally, acting responsibly toward the environment to foster a sustainable future, and strengthening the communities we serve, we live our global citizenship.

As a university with campus locations in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa and a curriculum increasingly rooted in global citizenship on every level, Webster is distinctly preparing our students through high quality learning experiences that transform them for global citizenship, as part of their achievement of individual excellence.

That is the heart of our mission. Since the early years of our founding, the Sisters of Loretto educated young women for life and career when few thought it important or even acceptable. Today that pioneering and entrepreneurial spirit is both alive and honored as we educate women and men to make a difference in the world.

Whether those students are first generation college students in St. Louis, or parents who know that one of the best ways they can show their children how to prepare themselves for success in career and life is to set the example of a courageous return to their own education, or refugees from Rwanda, or veterans home from service or Ghanians at our newest campus in Accra – Webster prepares them for the world that awaits them. We know this world is one that is truly increasingly diverse and globally interconnected.

A key part of being a global citizenship is giving back. This is half of what we are celebrating this evening – the generosity of those who value their own opportunities that they have benefitted from and enjoyed, many during their time as students at Webster, and want to ensure that those same kinds of opportunities remain available to generations of students that follow them.

These individuals already know that something powerful happens to you when you give to Webster. The grace of giving and being a part of something larger than oneself is part of what is means to live the Webster mission and drives our students to make a difference in the world. This is a part of what it means to be a global citizen, to transform ourselves for global citizenship, and has always been a key part of what it means to be a part of the Webster community.

You will hear this come alive later this evening in the words of Tony Thompson, Webster University trustee, 1988 MBA alumnus, entrepreneur and civic leader; and of Marianne Gleich, an alumna of Webster’s French program, Daniel Webster Society Board member and retired high school French teacher in the Lindbergh School District.

In giving back with both monetary gifts and the gift of their service, Tony and Marianne share the values of Webster by truly embodying dedication to be true global citizens as they strive for success in their fields in pursuit of individual excellence.

The next generation of leaders will resound the same themes when we hear from former Desmond and Mary Ann Lee and DeWitt and Caroline VanEvera Foundation Scholar, Gabe Bullard, who, after interning on Late Night with Conan O’Brian and graduating with a degree in Journalism from Webster in 2007, has gone on to achieve his own individual excellence as Director of News and Editorial Strategy at Louisville Public Media. I invite us to take a moment to recall 4 donors whose memory we honor as they passed from us in the past year:

Marianne Knaup, BA ‘67

  • Alumna – BA Education
  • Trustee from 1998-2007

Raymond Slowiak

  • DWS Member since 1987

Audrey Dietrich, BA ‘45

  • Alumna
  • Parent of Webster alumnus, Paul Dietrich
  • DWS Member since 1989
  • Legacy Society Member

Marita Woodruff, BFA ’49 –

  • Former Sister of Loretto
  • Alumna – Conservatory
  • Faculty – Conservatory from 1957-1998
  • Chair of Webster’s Theatre Arts from 1959-1969
  • Theatre Director - Helped found the Repertory Theatre
  • Helped develop & design the Loretto-Hilton
  • Legacy Society Member

[Moment of silence]

Lastly, before we close the evening with the superb talents of a few of our esteemed Conservatory students, you will hear from the awe-inspiring Rachel Kaufer. Rachel, the 2012-2013 Harry J. Cargas Scholar and this year’s Art Sandler Memorial Scholar, has focused her studies and the next chapter of her life on international human rights and the dream of becoming a researcher for a major human rights organization.

Throughout her college career at Webster, Rachel was thrilled to study in Geneva, just a short train ride away from the United Nations, and went on a transformative educational excursion to Rwanda for two weeks with a small group of classmates and two professors. She followed this impressively focused educational track all while maintaining a position on Webster’s women’s volleyball team. I know you are excited to hear from our esteemed speakers as much as I am.

Now, I would like to invite Dr. Julian Schuster, Provost and Senior Vice President, to the stage to share with you what Webster’s distinct Global Citizenship Program Curriculum has already made possible in its recent implementation and how it uniquely prepares our students to be successful in the world that awaits them.

Thank you, President Stroble. I have the privilege of introducing to many of you tonight the unique aspects of our Global Citizenship Program curriculum, or GCP.

As President Stroble has said in the past, “There was a day when access to a globally focused education was considered a luxury. Today, it’s a necessity for our graduates if they are to remain competitive in the global marketplace.”

This necessity that President Stroble speaks of becomes more pressing each year, which is one reason global citizenship is a key component of our mission.

We say this mission is to transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence. Transformation requires curiosity, courage and commitment — qualities that we seek and develop in our students, particularly with our distinct GCP core curriculum. Armed with these qualities, our students will not only understand the world, they will also be capable of making it better.

Through its Global Citizenship Program, Webster University is poised as a leader in the development of globally focused educational curriculum.

So, these are some lofty words. But what do they mean on a practical level, and why did our faculty jump on the opportunity to create it?

The GCP is an effective 30 credit hour general education program specifically designed beginning in 2009 to ensure that every undergraduate student emerges from Webster University with the core competencies required for responsible global citizenship in the 21st century.

It is the product of Webster’s faculty converging to design a curriculum rooted in research and national best practices with the exceptional level of expertise, professionalism and care that they bring to their students in the classroom. Through sheer determination of our faculty, the GCP curriculum was developed and approved within two years by the Faculty Assembly in Spring 2011, and students began study in the GCP in 2012, at campuses in St. Louis, Cha-am, Geneva, Leiden, London and Vienna. I say this is an exceptional timeframe, as curriculum development, acceptance and implementation at this caliber traditionally takes 7-10 years, but the faculty dedication to this development is unmatched.

Focused on integrative, experiential learning strategies in courses specifically designed to allow students to apply their skills and knowledge to real world issues, GCP is unique in the U.S. – unique in the world.

GCP utilizes a three phase purposeful pathways sequence, including a First Year Seminar, courses that address knowledge, communication, critical thinking, ethical reasoning, global understanding, intercultural competence and integrative thinking, and concludes with a Global Keystone Seminar.

The Global Keystone Seminar, which includes opportunities such as the Real World Survivor, serves as a capstone for the GCP and also prepares students to succeed in culminating work in their major.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Secretary General Angel Gurria said in the May 2012 launch of its “Better Skills, Better Jobs, Better Lives: A Strategic Approach to Skills Policies” initiative, “Skills have become the global currency of 21st century economies.”

The GCP is designed to arm all of our students, regardless of their major, with the crosscutting skills that they will need to succeed and have earning power in their careers and to solve the complex and increasingly globally interconnected issues that will impact their work in the professional landscape that awaits them.

It is important to share this information about this curriculum with you this evening, because these integrated learning opportunities are the ones that you are helping to provide to so many in this room through your scholarship gifts.

But, better than I can tell you about the impact of the GCP are the words of those who design it, experience it, and make it real.

Here are some with perspectives from professor in the Department of Philosophy, Dr. Bruce Umbaugh, who is a lead faculty member in the development of the GCP curriculum, as well as key takeaways that several of our students have expressed from their GCP experience at Webster. I also want to note that lead production in creation of this video was managed by current Forsyth Scholar and Global Marketing Communications Videography Intern, Ryan Smith. Thank you and congratulations, Ryan. Now please enjoy his work.

[video plays]

***

Thank you, Tony, Marianne, Gabe and Rachel, for sharing yourselves and your stories with us this evening. Aren’t they amazing? Let’s have another round of applause in recognition of our students and our scholarship sponsors.

Now, to close the evening, I am pleased to welcome two stars of the Conservatory’s spring production of Into the Woods, Erica Stephan (STEPH-fahn), Musical Theatre major and this year’s Byron Grant Endowed Musical Theatre Scholar, and Melissa Weyn (WAYNE), Acting major and this year’s Michael Flanagan Scholar.  Accompanying them is Larry Pry (rhymes with why), Music Director for Into the Woods.

***

How wonderful! Thank you Erica, Melissa and Larry.

Earlier tonight I spoke of opportunity.  Tonight’s scholarship dinner has afforded us another opportunity – the opportunity to bring donors and scholarship recipients together to learn, to thank, to celebrate.

Last night I attended the annual dinner and awards celebration for Catalyst.  An international organization that advances diversity and inclusion in the business community.  Deborah Gillis, the CEO, spoke inspirationally about the importance of the concept of “promise.” I believe we have honored a promise tonight.  We have welcomed and supported students of promise and we in turn have made a promise to them that we will help to assure their success. It is my hope for that promise to take hold in each of us now and in the future.

We hope you enjoyed the dinner, the conversation and our beautiful centerpieces.  We would like to invite each person whose program is marked with a star sticker to take home one of the lovely floral arrangements, enjoy! Thank you again for coming – good night!