How Webster University is Becoming 'A Better U'

DWS Dinner
St. Louis Club
Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thank you, Tom. Good evening everyone. It is nice to gather with you again to celebrate you and the support and friendship you extend to Webster University each year. Our staff, faculty and most importantly, our students thank you for your commitment to Webster.

Your support makes a difference in the lives of our students and ultimately the world. Throughout the evening, in our program and in the conversations you will have around your table, you will see and hear how Webster continues to grow and improve to become a Better U for our students. 

A Better U is the tagline of a new undergraduate marketing campaign we launched last fall. Let’s watch.

This campaign was designed to recruit a strong class of highly qualified and diverse students. We focused on the concept of - Webster University: Destination - A Better U.  And of course, we can all benefit from this concept. 

Webster University is, indeed, a place for each of us to become a “Better U” – whether we are students, faculty, adjunct faculty, staff members, or administrators.

We all seek to learn, to develop, to improve personally and professionally and to create a better Webster, a better “U”niversity, for the success of our students - something you, our cherished Daniel Webster Society members commit to as well.

Tonight you will meet Emma Longworth-Mills, who is defining her major and the better U she will be through Webster.

We will present the Daniel Webster Society Visionary Award to a woman who came to Webster with a one-year fellowship and stayed for 50 years. One of her colleagues called her, “The heart and backbone of the Department of International Languages and Cultures…the embodiment of dignity, integrity and joviality.” We will learn more about her later.

We will share examples of other student successes and ways we are bringing the world to Webster and Webster to the world.

Before we enjoy dinner, I want to make a few introductions. First I will introduce the newest members of our leadership team. 

Colleagues, please stand when I call your name and we will recognize you all after introductions:

• Greg Gunderson, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

• Ken Freeman, Interim Chief Information Officer and Vice President

• Laura Rein, University Secretary (long serving dean of University Libraries)

• Eileen Condon, Acting Dean University Libraries

• Barbara O’Malley, Chief Communications Officer

• Oren Yagil, Special Assistant to the President

• Nancy Hellerud, Vice Provost

Please welcome these members of our administrative staff—both new and in new roles.

The second round of introductions is for our Student Ambassadors. We are now in our second year of this program, which was developed to showcase the quality and diversity of our student body. 

These student leaders must meet exacting qualifications because they represent the University at events throughout the year. Ambassadors, please stand when I call your name and we will recognize you collectively as well.

Daniel Webster Society members and guests, please welcome the 2011-12 class of Student Ambassadors.

Thank you.

And I am glad to make one special introduction for a treasured friend of the University. He has served in roles that have touched generations of students, faculty, and staff.  He has led this institution in ways that have and will continue to form the foundation of Webster’s success for generations to come.

He will retire in May after four decades of dedicated service and leadership. He has been a supportive colleague and advisor to many  including me. Chancellor Neil George, please stand so our Daniel Webster Society members can show their appreciation for all you have done to make Webster a Better U.

Thank you. We will continue our program after dinner. Enjoy.

*****

Earlier I mentioned our intention to become a Better U.  I am confident when I say that Webster is poised and ready to execute leadership and vision for global academic and operational excellence

In four short years, Webster will celebrate its centennial. From our beginnings as one of the first women’s colleges west of the Mississippi to our current status as the only Tier 1, private, nonprofit university with campus locations around the world, we have the history, the capacity, and the vision to compete in a global marketplace.

Our Better U advertising program was a successful one. We met and exceeded our goal for new first time freshmen and welcomed 478 to the freshman class this fall, an increase of 12% over last year. 

Not only are we building more predictably strong entering classes in terms of numbers, but also we are also growing in academic quality, with the strongest combined GPA and ACT scores since 2006. Equally important is our increase our retention rates, where we compare very favorably with our peers, and our increase in diversity, with 142 countries represented by our freshmen and transfer students.

This freshman class is a special one for it will be the first to experience many exciting developments at Webster that will inspire them to become a Better U. These developments are made possible through your continued support. They include:

The developments in academics:

The East Academic Building, (home of the George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology and 40 general purpose classrooms) which will open for the Spring Term.

We have enhanced our facilities for students in these examples: a new commuter lounge and enhanced Loretto Hall Courtyard in Webster Groves as well as a new counseling training center in Geneva,

The re-design of our core curriculum to the Global Citizenship Program.

Our status as an All-Steinway School, one of 123 worldwide.

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

This past year we continued to hire new faculty, with our full-time faculty now numbering 200 who complement our 1500+ practitioners worldwide.

The first teaching festival, an event that showcased and inspired the further collaboration of faculty across disciplines.

The Center for the Advancement of Women and Diversity in Business in Leiden to achieve a level playing field for everyone and overcome barriers in business due to race, religion, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender, and color.

We are building our future on a strong and healthy financial base:

We earned our second bond ratings increase since 2009—from both Moody’s and Fitch’s—a rare accomplishment in university circles. (Moody’s rating from A3 to A2. Fitch rating from A- to A)

We are close to our Comprehensive Campaign Goal of $55 million, with $53 million in confirmed gifts and pledges.

So far, this campaign has provided funding for 45 new endowed scholarships as well as funds to support students’ international travel.

We are grateful for every gift made to support academic programs, student scholarships, new buildings, improved landscaping, a new quad, and even bricks that will pave the way for our students’ steps to a better U.

We have been and will continue to be good stewards of the gifts our treasured donors make to Webster, and as we seek to close this campaign by year’s end, we thank you for your continued generous commitments as DWS members. We seek your support for Webster’s future success and assure you that any additional gifts you can provide not only help us reach our campaign goal, but will guarantee Webster’s legacy for another 100 years.

We are building on the quality of our academic programs and strengthening our financial position in order to make Webster a Better U for our current and future students.

We attract diverse, interesting and accomplished students, faculty and staff who thrive in and contribute to our premier global network for learning. 

Our students, faculty and staff are locally committed in the many places Webster calls home, while taking full advantage of the opportunities afforded them by their global colleagues.

Our faculty, staff and graduates are equipped to work well with people of all cultures and be successful in their chosen careers anywhere in the world.

We are recognized by a diverse group of respected publications:

Webster University’s Study Abroad programs are ranked in the top 2 percent of the 1,600 colleges and universities surveyed for the recent U.S. News & World Report issue. Webster is one of only 27 U.S. institutions to share this distinction, which recognizes programs that involve substantial academic work for credit and interaction between students and culture.

Earlier this year, U.S. News & World Report included Webster’s nursing and nurse anesthesia programs in its annual ranking of the nation’s best graduate schools and programs.

The Chronicle of Higher Education – Best Colleges to Work For—4th year in a row, only one of 12 schools to be recognized all 4 years

Military Friendly School by G.I.Jobs and Military Advanced Education magazines

Diverse Issues in Higher Education recognized Webster for providing an environment in which diverse graduate students can be successful and earn degrees. Webster has consistently achieved top rankings since DIHE began publishing the survey in 1991.

Webster University ranks among America's 500 best colleges, according to a report released by Forbes magazine.

We are proud of these recognitions, but we are more proud of what they represent: Webster’s exceptional commitment to meeting students’ needs.

One of those needs is the desire to become responsible global citizens.

Webster is a unique and wonderful place. We have the distinct opportunity to travel the world and to bring the world to us. Traveling the world and bringing the world to us – not only opens up dialogue, it opens our minds to new ideas and it helps us to strengthen partnerships on a global basis. 

Traveling the world and bringing the world to us is how we will fulfill our mission to provide high quality, learning experiences that transform our students for global citizenship and individual excellence. We will be a Better U for our students, for ourselves, and for the communities we serve.

Another respected publication has recognized our success in fulfilling our mission.

The Institute of International Education’s annual Open Doors report ranked Webster fifth among all U.S. masters’ degree-granting institutions for study abroad.

Webster students, faculty and staff are a mobile group, taking Webster out into the world:

To study, teach or work at our international campuses

A delegation of six faculty in El Salvador for a one-week immersion experience to learn how the Salvadorans are trying to rebuild their country today. As a result of the visit, Webster will offer students hybrid-courses, including a one-week immersion experience in El Salvador.

Six Webster University human rights students and four faculty members recently returned from a study tour in Rwanda as part of a hybrid course, Advanced Topics in Human Rights: Connecting across Culture—Rwanda, which combined six weeks of online study and a two-week tour of the small, landlocked African country.

My 2011 Commencement Tour took me to our Vienna, San Antonio, Space Coast, Little Rock and Fort Leavenworth campuses.

This spring Provost Schuster, Dean Akande, and members of our Global Leadership Academy Curriculum Team joined me for a visit to the U. S. Air Force Academy’s Center for Character and Leadership. We gathered valuable input for our program, which will identify and develop the leadership potential of our community.

Dr. Schuster and I traveled to Oman and Geneva last fall

Recently, Dr. Schuster visited Russia

I just returned from Israel where I was part of Midwestern university president’s tour, sponsored by Israel’s Department of Foreign Ministry.

And I was just invited to chair the U.S.-Indonesia Joint Council on Higher Education Partnership’s Institutional Partnerships Focus Group. This group will develop strategies and a plan to strengthen the educational ties between our two countries.

Our local and global partnerships provide opportunities for us to bring the world to Webster by hosting speakers on our campus from literally around the world:

Adel Sammy, The President of Wadi Degla Holding, an Egyptian telecommunications company

Sustainability expert, Paul Dickinson, founder of the Carbon Disclosure Project

Webster University alumnus Lt. Gen. Michael C. Gould, superintendent of the U.S. Air Force Academy

The E. Desmond Lee Professor of Global Awareness, Dr. Janaki Rajan professor in Education at Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi, India, was the keynote speaker at Webster’s Women’s Rights as Human Rights Conference.

Indonesian Ambassador Dino Patti Djalal

The Consul General of Pakistan, Zaheer Pervaiz Khan

Toyoshi Satow, the President of J. F. Oberlin University in Japan paid us a visit.

Honorary Doctorates presented to Christopher “Kit” Bond, former senator; Aldwyn Cooper, chief executive and principal of Regent’s College, Webster’s partner university in London; and Mary Alice Dwyer Dobbin, alumna, former trustee, and former television executive.

Ken Burns made his fifth visit to campus this fall. This time with his collaborator, Lynn Novick, for the premier of their latest documentary, Prohibition.

Sam Palmisano, Chairman and CEO of IBM

Susan Elliott, a local entrepreneur, author, and former trustee, and one of the first female programmers to work at IBM.

These are just a few of the distinguished guests we have hosted on our campus - and just one way we bring the world to Webster.

Looking back we can be proud of the many ways we have facilitated the interchange of cultures and perspectives by bringing the world to Webster and Webster to the world. In doing so, we have created high quality learning experiences for our students in, and out of the classroom.

Earlier I gave you a brief profile of our freshman class, but this class is special for another reason. They will graduate in 2015, the year of our centennial celebration. At that time we will look back on our century of meeting unmet needs, our growth, and our success in advancing the vision of global academic and operational excellence. 

Tonight we look forward to the next four years and the opportunities we will have to build a better U-niversity for this class and generations to come. For example:

The Master Plan:

We have contracted with the internationally known firm, Sasaki Associates, to develop our campus master plan that will guide our campus planning for the next 15 years and beyond.

Sasaki is an integrated planning and design firm committed to realizing thoughtful, sustainable solutions to their clients' unique situations.

Our planning process began last month. We look forward to hearing their recommendations for the future St. Louis landscape of Webster University.

We have created some beautiful gathering places on campus: our new Loretto Hall Courtyard and Marletto’s Patio and,

As I mentioned earlier, soon we will have a new quad outside the East Academic Building; another gathering place for students, faculty and staff.

The quad will be the location of a public art project I want to tell you about. We have established the new Webster University Art Council made up of faculty, students, staff and members of the Webster Groves community. 

They will oversee the coordination of public art in collaboration with external entities, such as the Webster Groves School District and Webster Groves itself to acquire and display art on our campus.

We look forward to unveiling this project and welcome you to be a part of the growth and excitement that is propelling us into Webster’s bright future.  By next year, we anticipate a beautiful new quad, with many opportunities for our community to gather and enjoy art that reflects Webster’s distinctive mission and vision.

Looking at some developments on our extended campuses you will find our Ocala campus in a vibrant new location, a completely renovated academic building with new technology capabilities on our Leiden campus, and new military programs at Randolph Air Force Base, in Texas.

Our new Web site will tell the Webster story to multiple audiences and provide a consistent feel and look across the university. It will also feature a system to allow for faster updates and more dynamic content.

The Webster story is how we serve our students through global academic programs; diversity in the classroom; small interactive classes; and a distinguished faculty with the right balance of global scholarship and professional experience to bring real world knowledge to their classrooms.

You are an important part of the Webster story. We appreciate all that you do to support Webster, as we become a Better U.

Tonight we are very proud to present someone who has taken advantage of Webster’s attention to individual student’s needs and created an undergraduate experience that is uniquely hers.

Please welcome my esteemed colleague, Provost and Senior Vice President, Dr. Julian Schuster, who will introduce us to one of our extraordinary students. Julian…

*****

Thank you, Beth.

It is with great pride and pleasure that I introduce a young lady of many talents and interests - a Renaissance woman, if you will. She is a senior working on dual degrees – a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Bachelor of Arts in Music and plans to attend medical school.

She is a prolific video blogger where she gives advice, shares her travel experiences, and much more. On her blog she displays a playful, animated side that entertains and informs her 60,000 plus subscribers.

She shows great passion in all her interests, which will make her a wonderful doctor and a well-rounded person.

Please welcome, Emma Longworth-Mills who will talk about “The Frozen Yogurt Phenomenon: Interdisciplinary Study at Webster University.”

*****

I was asked here tonight to speak about interdisciplinary study at Webster University, which I’m definitely going to do. But first I’m going to talk about frozen yogurt.

I feel like in just the last couple of years, a wave of frozen yogurt establishments has descended on St. Louis. And these places are all basically the same, whether a FroYo or a Yogurtland or a Yo My Goodness. You get a cup, the size of which is up to you, and you bring it to a wall of frozen yogurt flavors. You dispense the yogurt yourself, and then you take a journey to a glorious place—the toppings bar, replete with candies and nuts and syrups and bits of fruit and sprinkles, and this is where the magic happens-- you add these toppings at your own discretion. You don’t want fruit? Not a problem. You want to eat a tablespoon of yogurt and 27 maraschino cherries ? Done-zo.

Now it’s not like you don’t have some degree of choice at other places. I can go to Dairy Queen and ask for a cup of soft serve with chocolate sprinkles on it. But the amount of soft serve I receive and the number of chocolate sprinkles on that soft serve is at the mercy of the teenager who will inevitably prepare it. And what if young Ashley’s interpretation of an adequate number of chocolate sprinkles does not coincide with my chocolate sprinkle aesthetic?  I have no choice.  I have to take what I’m given. When it comes to frozen desserts, frozen yogurt is not just a healthier alternative to ice cream. It is a towering monument to the value of choice.

The attitude I take toward my frozen yogurt is the attitude I take toward my education. I could go to a Dairy Queen college and get my pre-packaged bachelor’s degree with Ashley’s number of chocolate sprinkles on it. But I wanted to be the master of my own toppings, and so I came to Webster University.

When I started college, I had no idea what I wanted to major in, and not because I didn’t have any particular interests but because I had so many particular interests. Among majors I considered were biology, film, journalism, music, scriptwriting, and even Spanish, even though yo hablo espanol bastante malo.

I eventually narrowed it down to biology and music through trial and error, which was the same way I learned that Captain Crunch and Gummi Bears don’t go great with pumpkin froyo. I learned by taking a journalism class that I am terrible at journalism. Apparently you’re not allowed to elaborate on the truth, not even a little bit. I learned from taking scriptwriting and media production classes that as much as I like watching movies, I don’t want to make them professionally. There’s a lot of technical stuff involved-- ratios and things, I had no idea.

Now studying biology and music is not easy. And not because they’re such disparate subjects, because as I’ve been writing on a lot of med school applications lately, they’ve got more to do with each other than a lot of people would think. Both involve practice, patience, and a very delicate balance between attention to detail and understanding of an overall picture.

No, studying these two subjects is hard because as far as college goes, I probably could not have picked two departments that have less to do with each other. Except for maybe art and accounting, though I’m not sure if any enterprising young student has yet to embark on such a double major.

But I’ve made studying these two disciplines work, in large part because Webster has allowed me to make it work. Both departments have been willing to work with me and with each other to make sure that I’m able to coordinate piano lessons with lab classes with musicianship with chem lectures.

At Webster you can be that musician-scientist, or that artist-accountant or that dance major who knows a lot about pre-World War II architecture. I came to Webster because I don’t think there should be boundaries on our educations, just like I don’t think I should have to compromise on the amount of sprinkles on my frozen yogurt. Luckily for me, Webster seems to agree.

And that’s all I’ve got for you tonight, thank you so much for having me.

*****
Thank you, Emma for that entertaining presentation.

Tonight, with respect and gratitude, we recognize Consuelo Gallagher with the 2011 Daniel Webster Society Visionary Award.

Consuelo Gallagher came to Webster in 1945 as a 20-year-old Venezuelan with a one-year fellowship to teach Spanish. Sixty-six years later, we are here to celebrate the energy and vision that she invested in the University.

For 59 years in the classroom, she instilled her students with a love of all languages and an appreciation for other cultures.

In an interview celebrating her 50th year at Webster, she talked of the changes she had witnessed over the years, of Webster’s transition from “college” to “university” to “international university.”

“It’s a beautiful thing to see us going international,” she said. 

From the beginning, Consuelo fostered Webster’s mission to “go international.”

In the 1950s Webster accepted foreign students regardless of their proficiency in English. In response, Consuelo developed our English as a Second Language program—an example of Webster’s long tradition of identifying needs and addressing them.

Consuelo determined, too, that she would make gifts to foster internationalism at Webster through the study of languages and culture. Never a small-scale thinker, she further determined that she would become the first faculty member at Webster to contribute $1 million.

She did it. She created two endowed scholarships: The James R. & Consuelo E. Gallagher Memorial Endowed Scholarship to honor her late husband and her own lifelong commitment to Webster, and the Rosita Endowed International Languages Scholarship to memorialize her mother.

There’s more. Consuelo funds the Rosita International Awareness and Language Studies Awards through annual gifts. The Rosita Awards recognize students eager to explore different cultures through language studies—a perfect complement to Webster’s goal to transform students into global citizens. Through her estate, Consuelo has provided for permanent funding of the Rosita Awards.

Consuelo has funded annual scholarships, and she has made significant gifts to the Sister Mary Mangan and the Sisters of Loretto Endowed Scholarships.

In recognition of her generosity, Consuelo received the 2000 Spirit of Philanthropy Award from the St. Louis regional chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Webster University is pleased to present its most prestigious donor award to a former faculty member, professor emerita Consuelo E. Gallagher, in recognition of her decades of commitment to Webster University and its students, and the magnificent legacy of teaching and philanthropy that she has built to further Webster's mission.

Please welcome a treasured friend, Consuelo.