NAFSA President's Day Dinner

Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the Campus President’s Day dinner. As president of Webster University, an institution that has made its home in St. Louis for almost 100 years, I am glad you have come to our city and home for this year’s conference.

As I look around the room, I see familiar faces—many friends and partners, locally, regionally, and globally—especially those we have come to know in the 60 cities, 8 countries, and 4 continents where Webster University students complete degrees. 

We assemble here to confer with each other and to gain knowledge and tools that help us achieve the ideals and impact of international education. As we engage in a global journey, we seek to learn, to grow, to build our capacity and the capacity of those around us.   In the words of Webster University’s mission statement, we embrace learning experiences that transform us for individual excellence and global citizenship.

My Webster colleagues and I advance a global vision to meet unmet needs where students are—whether in St. Louis or San Antonio, in Shanghai or Geneva, at Fort Bragg or Bangkok. And this fall we will open our newest international campus in Accra, Ghana.

Physical presence is a necessary condition for our identity as a global university because it is through meeting local need and building local capacities that global citizenship develops. It is through academic programs that build on an undergraduate general education program focused on global citizenship where students gain knowledge and skills for global impact.

Dedicated scholarships, global internship exchanges, and programs as diverse as our Confucius Institute and our championship chess team bring to Webster a rich diversity of students, staff, and faculty. Purposeful policies and programs encourage mobility for these students and employees around the world of Webster. Our global leaders in residence and global conferences on topics in human rights, communications, and business increase awareness for us, and the communities we serve. Through our Global Leadership Academy, we build our own knowledge and experience of the world. In short, it is our intention to open Webster to the world and the world to Webster. In that spirit, I look forward to the time we will spend together as presidents focused on the ideals and impact of international education. 

As I interacted yesterday with Everett Egginton, my former colleague at The University of Louisville, I recalled my first international trip representing my institution when we traveled together to El Salvador.  From that experience stemmed many of my sensibilities about international education.

I am grateful to him and can recommend for any of you just beginning to explore international education, a road trip with an experienced faculty member.  To this day, I believe the greatest learning occurs in the company of fellow travelers. As we continue our global journey, Webster University charts a strategic path that we most enjoy when engaged with partners.  We work with greatest impact in a network of dynamic people, places, programs and partners.  We would value your partnership and it is my pleasure and honor to extend a warm welcome to you to this President’s day dinner and to this exceptional conference.

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