Diversity & Inclusion Timeline | Webster University

Timeline Highlights

  • 1915 – Webster University was founded as one of the first colleges west of the Mississippi River to educate women. It was diverse from its very inception.
  • 1919 – Webster welcomed its first two international students. Both were from France and came to the college as part of a war relief effort project to help children escape WWI. This was an early indication of Webster’s global nature and commitment to human rights.
  • 1925 – Webster created its first scholarship to encourage students to study abroad. Today, this assistance continues with the Webster Worldwide Traveler Program providing round-trip airfare to qualified students so that they can learn from the diversity of communities across the globe.
  • 1931 – Webster enhanced its international focus and established an International Relations Club. Webster began bringing students from other countries to campus in Webster Groves. During the next 20 years, 200 faculty members and students went abroad or came to Webster.
  • 1939 – The first visually impaired student graduated from Webster College. Genevieve Hogan received a bachelor’s of philosophy in French and English.
  • 1947 – The first two African-American students were admitted to Webster.
  • 1950 – Janet Irene Thomas becomes the first African-American to graduate from Webster. Webster University continues to encourage diversity within our student body.
  • 1963 – For the first time, male students attended Webster full-time. (Previously, they took courses in the Fine Arts program but had to complete their degrees at Saint Louis University.)
  • 1978 – The first European campus opened in Geneva, Switzerland offering both graduate and undergraduate degrees and capitalizing on the global perspective the city would add to a student's education.
  • 1981 – Webster’s international growth continued with the opening of the Vienna campus in 1982, followed by campuses in Leiden in 1983 and London in 1986.
  • 1989 – Webster’s Minority Affairs Department was opened. This would later become Multicultural Services in and Multicultural Affairs in 1995, and the Multicultural Center and International Student Affairs (MCISA) department in 1996.
  • 1990 – As the University celebrated its 75th anniversary, it reported offering programs in 11 urban education centers and 37 military bases in the United States, Bermuda and Iceland. In 2014, Webster is located on 4 continents, 8 countries, 60 cities. The number of locations fluctuates depending on where higher education is needed most. Webster remains flexible and responsive to student and community needs.
  • 1995 – The Student Leadership Development Program was established. This program would be renamed to WebsterLEADS in 2000. WebsterLEADS is an ongoing application of scholarship and practical leadership experience empowering our diverse student population to develop and excel as global citizens.
  • 1995 – The first annual Humanitarian Conference at Webster Geneva was held, creating a significant multi-day gathering of scholars and nongovernmental organizational leaders held under the auspices of the Government of the Canton of Geneva. Webster University celebrated 20 years of hosting the conference in early 2015.
  • 1995 – Webster Works Worldwide (WWW) launched as an annual community service day, where students, faculty, staff, alumni volunteer at nonprofits that impact the communities Webster serves at campus locations around the world. To date, more than 28,000 volunteers have given more 121,000 hours of service worldwide. Many of the agencies and organizations WWW serves benefit minority groups and other underserved populations.
  • 1995 – The Multicultural Center and International Student Affairs (MCISA) department was formed and went on to organize various student travel activities and events to engage students in national and international diversity topics. This includes the "Get On the Bus" trip to Memphis and Little Rock to visit the National Civil Rights Museum and Clinton Presidential Library, along with other activities and multicultural events.
  • 1996 – The St. Louis region’s longest running annual drag ball was founded, encouraging Webster students to celebrate LGBTQ diversity.
  • 1996 – Webster’s international reach expanded to Asia with the establishment of graduate business programs in Shanghai and Chengdu, in conjunction with the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics.
  • 1999 – Webster expanded within Asia as it opened a campus in Hua Hin/ Cha-Am, Thailand, offering undergraduate and graduate programs.
  • 2004 – The World Traveler Program was launched, in which qualified students throughout the University receive free round-trip airfare to support their study abroad at Webster.
  • 2009 – The Confucius Institute (and the first Confucius Institute in Missouri) opened at the Old Post Office in downtown St. Louis. The Institute offers an extensive list of outreach activities – ranging from teaching Chinese language and culture classes in St. Louis-area K–12 schools, to hosting Chinese immersion trips each summer for local high school students, to conducting workshops for employees of St. Louis companies that conduct business in China.
  • 2010 – The Global Leadership Academy was created. Launched during the 2011–12 academic year, the GLA is a Webster University employee leadership development program created as a way to invest in employees and develop internal talent and leadership. One of the many key components of the academy is a focus on diversity awareness and inclusion.
  • 2012 – Webster’s president launched an ongoing lecture series, Contemporary Conversations for a Connected World, bringing together diverse thought leaders to present and interact with faculty, staff and students, and the public.

    • Major General Barbara J. Faulkenberry, Vice Commander, 18th Air Force, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois
    • Andrew Young, United Nations Ambassador and Civil Rights Activist
    • Debbie Storey, chief diversity officer and SVP of Talent Development, AT&T
    • David Washington, managing partner, Washington & Company; author
  • 2013 – Webster’s first chief diversity officer was appointed and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Community Engagement was formed. A Diversity Council composed of faculty, staff and students was formed.
  • 2013 – Webster University’s new campus in Accra, Ghana, was approved by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), meaning Webster University graduates in Ghana will hold degrees recognized in both Ghana and the United States. The first students started in spring 2014. Almost one hundred years after its founding, Webster remains committed to taking higher education to the places it is needed most.
  • 2013 – Webster University was one of four St. Louis organizations honored for its accessibility by Paraquad, a non-profit organization that has offered services to the disabled for more than forty years.
  • 2013 - Webster University partners with the St. Louis American Foundation to establish The Suggs Scholarship, designed to increase the recruitment and retention of high potential minority undergraduate students with a financial need.
  • 2013 – The Office of Diversity and Inclusion began presenting thought-provoking conversations such as "Conversations on Rethinking Possible…Women of Color Leading the Way."
  • 2014 – The new Webster University Gateway Campus was announced in downtown St. Louis. The historic Arcade building is being renovated to accommodate Webster students, faculty and staff and strengthen relationships with the community at large. Plans include offices, classrooms, a café and an art museum and auditorium.
  • 2014 – Webster opened its newest campus in Athens, Greece. This offers students, faculty and staff the opportunity to experience extraordinary artistic, intellectual and cultural heritage in Southern Europe.
  • 2014 – Student forums were held to discuss issues of national importance such as the 2014 Grand Jury announcement related to race relations and Ferguson. Conversations continue between administration and students in 2015 regarding race relations and other issues related to diversity and inclusion.
  • 2014 – Diverse Commencement speakers are routinely brought to campus - such as Koko Tanimoto Kondo, Bomb Survivor and Peace Advocate in 2014 and Jenifer Lewis, celebrated actress and Webster alumna in 2015.
  • 2015 – Webster’s Common Reading Program for 2015–16, “Readings for Diversity and Social Justice” was launched in the First-Year Seminars.
  • 2015 – Alicia Graf Mack, Webster University faculty member, is widely recognized as one of the most original dancers of our time. She was the lead dancer of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. She spoke during Webster’s Centennial year. Filmmaker and activist Spike Lee was the fall 2015 Campus Activities guest speaker.
  • 2015 – C200 Scholar Award and Networking Event was held on the home campus in November uniting women of all backgrounds. “Forward: A Call to Action and Empowerment through Education” conference with National Urban League and Xerox provided a forum in November to discuss issues in education related to diversity and inclusion.
  • 2015 – Webster University launches the Global Student Leadership Summit which provides a platform for student leaders to learn and share insights and ideas that enhance academic and student life while also encouraging a global citizenship mindset amongst the diverse, worldwide student community that makes Webster University unique.
  • 2015 - Webster University and the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU). Under the agreement, the two institutions will explore cooperation in areas of student and faculty exchanges, joint areas of study and research.
  • 2016 – The Office of Diversity and Inclusion launches the two-day "Embracing Diversity & Inclusion: Critical Conversations" conference as a forum for students, faculty, staff, alumni and community partners to share their experiences, research, and emerging trends in creating communities that embrace diversity in ways that welcome and include.
  • 2016 – The multi-faith reflection space opens — a space where Webster University community members can meditate, reflect on their spirituality and express their faith.
  • 2016 – Webster University partners with Rotary International Club 11 to launch the Annual Young Citizens Award Program, awarding college scholarships to 26 high school seniors from 13 St. Louis public high schools.
  • 2016 - Webster University and the University of Tyumen (located in Tyumen, Russia) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to explore potential areas of cooperation including student and faculty exchanges, joint areas of study and research, and potential development of curriculum support and training.
  • 2016 - President Elizabeth (Beth) Stroble named the recipient of the Insight into Diversity's "Giving Back Award" for Presidents and Chancellors. This is the only national award that honors presidents and chancellors for their commitment to diversity.
  • 2016 – Webster University welcomed Arnd Wächter, director of the "Crossing Borders" film series, which uses documentary footage to provide viewers perspectives on the lived experiences of others through travel and dialogue in intercultural settings around the world.
  • 2017 – MCISA hosted a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. tribute dinner. The keynote, entitled "Tearing Hatred from the Sky", was delivered by activist Bree Newsome, who was arrested in 2015 after scaling the 30-foot flagpole in front of the South Carolina statehouse to remove the Confederate flag, which is seen by many as a symbol of racism and hatred.
  • 2017 - Webster University signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Thames International College in Kathmandu, Nepal, which is designed to bring students from Nepal to Webster in St. Louis, and open a path for future collaboration between the two institutions.
  • 2017 - Webster University and the African Renaissance and Diaspora Network, Inc. (ARDN) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in which both will collaborate with various awareness campaigns affiliated with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. These projects will allow students to receive hands-on experience with projects pertaining to AIDs in Africa and the United States, including:

    • Communications initiatives and projects involving digital media production, social media and gaming
    • Public health initiatives including public policy and community engagement
    • Executive leadership initiatives including thought leadership.
  • 2017 – Webster University named as a Catapult Competition coaching partner for the Annual St. Louis Business Journal's Women's Conference. The Catapult Competition is organized by the St. Louis Business Journal and MasterCard for women-owned businesses.
  • 2017 - Webster University and Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to explore ways the two institutions can work together.
  • 2017 - #WeAreAllWebster, a student-led campaign features Inclusion Pledge for Diversity, that would engage the entire campus community in promoting diversity, inclusion and respect for one another.
  • 2017 - Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between Webster University and the Ministry of Higher Education of Uzbekistan to establish a Webster University presence in the Republic of Uzbekistan.