Senior Administration | Webster University

Senior Administration


"Our goal is empowering students to think for themselves—to ask thoughtful questions and to care, deeply, about the answers."

- Dr. Julian Schuster

As Provost, Dr. Schuster collaborates with senior administrators in overseeing academic endeavors and in managing the internal administrative operations at Webster University. The Office of the Provost also supports the academic endeavors of the University, which includes Academic Affairs, Enrollment Management and Student Affairs, Finance & Administration, and Information Technology.

Provost's Senior Administration

Michael Cottam Michael Cottam

Dean and Associate Vice President of Military Campuses Online Education
Director of Online Learning Center

Dr. Michael Cottam oversees the Office of Military Affairs and the 28 military campuses run by Webster in addition to the online operations. He also works closely with the leadership of the metropolitan campuses, the deans of the schools and colleges, and the academic support units to further strengthen the experience of Webster students.

He also oversees the development and delivery of online courses and programs offered worldwide by Webster's schools and colleges. He is an experienced academic leader, strategic planner, instructional designer, and online education specialist.

Prior to joining Webster in 2014, Dr. Cottam served as Dean of Instruction at Portmont College at Mount St. Mary's in Denver, Colorado, where he led all academic, instructional design, and instructional technology initiatives. He has also served as Faculty, Associate Dean of Instruction and Director of Instructional Design and Technology at Rio Salado Community College in Tempe, Arizona.

Dr. Cottam holds a PhD in Educational Technology and an MA in Spanish Applied Linguistics from Arizona State University.

Thao Dang-Williams Thao Dang-Williams

Dean of Extended Education

Dr. Thao Dang-Williams works with Webster University's five schools and colleges to enhance student services, lead a coordinated enrollment effort, strengthen programs for both undergraduate and graduate students, and build educational partnerships in the St. Louis metropolitan area. 

Dr. Dang-Williams has had an extensive career in higher education. At Ranken Technical College, she held the positions of Assistant Registrar, instructor, and then later became the first female department chair of the college. She then assumed the position of Dean of the Humanities and Social Sciences Division at St. Louis Community College. She has been with Webster since 2010, serving first as the Associate Dean for the College of Arts & Sciences and then as Interim Associate Vice President and Director of the Online Learning Center, prior to her appointment as Dean of Extended Education in 2014,

Dr. Dang-Williams earned her BA in Communication and Government with a minor in the Classics from Monmouth College. She also holds an MA in Communication and an EdD in Higher Education Administration, both from Saint Louis University.

Brenda Fyfe Brenda Fyfe

Dean of the School of Education

Brenda Fyfe has been the Dean of the School of Education since 2002. She is a professor and researcher in the field of education. She has studied the Reggio Approach for over 20 years and has been a consultant to many private and public schools during these years. She is a board member of the National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators and the Association for Constructivist Teaching and Learning.

Dr. Fyfe has held many positions within the School of Education including being the MAT coordinator for early childhood education, the director of university assessment, chair of the School of Education, and the director of experimental and individualized learning. She holds a PhD in Education from Southern Illinois University, an MA in Early Childhood Special Education, and a BA in Sociology from Quincy College.

Nancy Hellerud Nancy Hellerud

Vice Provost

Nancy Hellerud joined Webster University in April 2011. She serves as chief of staff to the Provost, overseeing operations of the Office of Academic Affairs. She works with the senior administration, deans and faculty on a range of policy issues and strategic initiatives, with a focus on improving procedures and policies.

Prior to joining Webster, Ms. Hellerud served as interim dean (2010-2011) and associate dean (2004-2010) of the Hamline School of Business in St. Paul, Minnesota and was an assistant professor in the department of management and marketing. She holds a JD from the University of Oregon School of Law, an MA in Liberal Studies from Hamline University, and a BA in English and German, also from Hamline.

Ms. Hellerud's responsibilities include: Academic Advising,the Academic Resource Center, Faculty Development Center, and the Office of Institutional Effectiveness.

Tom Johnson Thomas Johnson

Associate Vice President and Chief of Strategic Initiatives of the Walker School of Business & Technology

Dr. Thomas Johnson provides leadership for the development and execution of strategic initiatives, including the identification of emerging markets and the creation, development and delivery of new programs. He was the dean of Webster University’s George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology for the 2015-16 academic year.

Dr. Johnson is the program leader for the Cybersecurity Program at Webster University. He serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the SANS Technology Institute, and was the co-founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the California Sciences Institute.  He was also one of the founding partners of the Forensic Data Center a company focused on computer forensics. He has published seven books, 13 referred articles, and holds copyright on four software programs. In addition to lecturing at the U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, he has also lectured at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, and numerous Universities. He has appeared in both State and U.S. Federal courts as an expert witness.

Dr. Johnson previously was as a member of the Electronic Crime Task Force, U.S. Secret Service- New York and San Francisco field offices, and a member of the FBI Infraguard program. He was a member of the Information Technology Working Group and served as Chair, Task Force Group on Combating High Technology Crime for the National Institute of Justice. He also served as an advisor to the Judicial Council of California on the Court Technology Task Force. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Michigan State University and his doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley.

Ana Karaman Ana Karaman, Ph.D.

Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Ana Karaman leads the Office of Finance and Administration, where she provides oversight of financial policy and direction for long-term budgetary planning, cost management and investment opportunities in alignment with Webster University’s strategic plan. Her position is part of the University’s senior leadership team and Provost’s Council, among other leadership positions. 

Karaman joined the University in September 2016, bringing her experience overseeing university finances, planning, and administration at several institutions, including a multi-campus institution. In addition to her administrative roles, she continues a successful academic career as a faculty member in political science, international relations, comparative law, and political economy. 

Prior to joining Webster, she served as vice chancellor for Administration, Planning and Finance at University of Washington Bothell, as vice provost for Institutional Planning, Budget and Effectiveness and tenured professor of political science at the University of San Francisco, and as associate vice president for Business and Financial Affairs at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, where she began as assistant professor of political science. Karaman holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she also earned a master of science degree in criminal justice and taught for three years. She has served two National Science Foundation Fellowships; the first at Harvard University and the second at Princeton University. She also graduated with a degree in jurisprudence from the Far-Eastern State University in Vladivostok, Russia.

Peter Maher Peter Maher

Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, International Campuses and Initiatives

Dr. Peter Maher oversees Webster’s international campuses and partnerships with external institutions. His major responsibilities include coordinating budgets, monitoring enrollment, facilitating programs involving multiple international campuses, and ensuring smooth operations across the Webster worldwide network.

Dr. Maher's career in higher education began as an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.  He subsequently joined a software consulting company and was responsible for developing and managing a nationwide training program. In 2004 Peter returned to academia as a professor in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at Webster University. Prior to his current appointment, he served as Associate Dean in the Walker School of Business and Technology with responsibilities for assessment and accreditation activities throughout the Webster network.  Peter was appointed AVP of Academic Affairs, International Campuses and Initiatives in September 2016.

Dr. Maher completed his undergraduate and graduate studies in mathematics and computer science at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, graduating with a PhD in artificial intelligence.

Margie Muthukumaru (Margie) Margarita Muthukumaru

Interim Chief Information Officer

Margarita (Margie) Muthukumaru has lead the Webster University Enterprise Information Systems team as it's director since 2010. She is a well-seasoned information systems manager and strategist with 25+ years of experience in higher education enhancing operational efficiencies, developing solutions, deploying and upgrading technologies and directing major technology and business initiatives. Passionate and result-driven to make IT responsive, cost effective, and service-oriented. Collaborative leader and business partner. She has achieved a MS in Management, MS in Systems Engineering, BS in Management and Industrial Engineering and a BS in Chemical Engineering. 

Paul Carney Robert Parrent

Vice President for Enrollment Management & Student Affairs

Dr. Parrent leads all functional areas of enrollment management and student affairs, which includes financial aid and undergraduate, international and graduate admissions, housing and residential life, student life, and registrar for the Webster Groves campus. He came to Webster in June 2013 after serving as Vice President for Enrollment Management at University of Central Arkansas.

Over the course of his career Dr. Parrent has served as Vice President for Student Affairs, University of Southern Indiana and as Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Services at Midway College. He holds Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees from Western Kentucky University and a Doctor of Education, Higher Education Administration from Indiana University, Bloomington.

Laura Rein Laura Rein

Dean of the Emerson Library

Laura Rein administers the Emerson Library, overseeing the provision of quality information and library services in support of the University's curriculum to students, faculty, and staff in online programs, in St. Louis, and at extended sites. She coordinates with staff at Eden Theological Seminary on the operation of the Webster-Eden Library System, a cooperative program that supports the teaching, research, and intellectual pursuits of Eden Theological Seminary and Webster University. She serves as the editor of the Webster University Press, managing the existing catalog as well as acquisition and publication of new titles.

Ms. Rein holds a master of library science from the University of Michigan, a master's degree in English from the University of Kentucky and a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Michigan-Flint.

Ms. Rein's responsibilities include: the Emerson Library and Webster University Press.

Eric Rothenbuhler Eric W. Rothenbuhler

Dean of the School of Communications

Dr. Rothenbuhler was previously Associate Dean of the Scripps College of Communication and Professor of Media Arts and Studies at Ohio University (2010-2012), director of the Media Studies MA Program at New School University (2001-2004), and a faculty member at University of Iowa (1985-2001) and Texas A&M University (2004-2010). He earned his PhD in 1985 from the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Southern California with a dissertation on the living room celebration of the television audience for the 1984 Summer Olympic games.

As a scholar, teacher, and administrator, Dr. Rothenbuhler has long pursued the integration of differing approaches to the study and practice of communication and media, and built a record of engagement with interdisciplinary programs, international scholarship, student media, outreach, and educational access.

Dr. Rothenbuhler's teaching and research address media anthropology, media history, and communication systems ranging from ritual through community to media industries, with special interest in music, sound, and radio. He is author or co-author of more than 60 articles, chapters, essays, and reviews on media, ritual, community, media industries, popular music, and communication theory. He has been a keynote or invited speaker at conferences and universities in China, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden, and at many universities in the US.

Peter Sargent Peter Sargent

Dean of the Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts

Peter Sargent is the Dean of the Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts and the Head of the Lighting Design and Stage Management Programs. He has been with the University since 1966. He received a BFA from the Carnegie Institute of Technology and an MFA from Yale University. Mr. Sargent has worked with the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis for 39 seasons. Highlights with the Rep as lighting designer include A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Edward Albee's The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?, Anything Goes, The Most Happy Fella, She Loves Me, Sweeeney Todd, A Little Night Music and Mister Roberts.

Mr. Sargent is a member of the College of Fellows of American Theatre, the National Theatre Conference, the Educational Theatre Association's Hall of Fame, the Musical Theatre/Theatre Panel for the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Network Program Policy Committee for Young Audiences (YA). He is also a vice president of the St. Louis Chapter of YA, on the Board of Directors for National Young Audiences, and a recipient of a Special Citation for Education from the United States Institute for Theatre Technology.

Tony Wallner Tony S. Wallner

Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences

Anton (Tony) Wallner is Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Webster University. He works with faculty, staff and students of the university to provide high quality academic programs in the liberal arts and sciences as well as professional programs, maintain adherence to university and college policies, and create new programs as well as engagement with community and global partners.

Tony earned his B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He has his M.S. in Analytical Chemistry from the University of Michigan and the Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Case Western Reserve University. He began his academic career at Missouri Western State University. In 2000, he took the position of Chair of the Department of Physical Sciences and Professor of Chemistry at Barry University in Miami Shores, FL. In 2008, he was appointed Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs at Barry University. He has mentored research projects with over 20 undergraduate students in his area of expertise, NMR spectroscopy, obtained funded grants, and developed a variety of new courses and programs. He has also engaged in various outreach activities with local community members and schools to promote STEM education in underrepresented populations.

Besides his passions for liberal arts and sciences education, STEM literacy, and NMR spectroscopy, Tony enjoys travel, sports and exercise, movies, theater, reading, and his rescue dogs and cats.