As Webster's Department of Public Relations looks back on the past year, we compiled this list of Top Webster Stories of 2012. The stories we selected highlight a few of the many accomplishments and recognitions that reinforce Webster's mission and core values, and that support our goal of achieving global academic and operational excellence.
The bold move by Webster University and champion chess Grandmaster Susan Polgar to move her Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence (SPICE) to Webster gained widespread attention throughout the year. From NPR's “All Things Considered” show, to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and the UK's Daily Mail, hundreds of media outlets shined the spotlight on Webster around the country.
In particular, a news story by Associated Press reporter Alan Scher Zagier showed up in news outlets big and small -- more than 240 media — including Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NBC, Fox, NPR, US News & World Report, Huffington Post, Seattle Times, Washington Post, (New York) Newsday, Miami Herald, and the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
The article quotes Polgar describing some of the rationale for moving her institute and entire champion chess team to Webster: “St. Louis today is the center of chess in America. It just seemed like a perfect fit.” Likewise, the students on her team — who hail from places as far and wide as Brazil, Germany and Iran — are quoted.
The AP story also captured Webster University Provost and Senior Vice President Julian Schuster‘s excitement: “He envisions a broader academic focus revolving around chess, espousing a ‘dream of connecting chess as not only a game but as a didactic tool, to apply in a learning setting.'”
Webster University's East Academic Building – the first new classroom building on the University's St. Louis campus since 1984 – was officially dedicated on March 28. The $29 million, 94,323-square-foot East Academic Building houses the George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology as well as other programs and services.
With 31 classrooms, 10 large computer labs, 48 offices, and two large lobbies, the new building features the most up-to-date instruction design and technology. The building also boasts numerous sustainability features. It was built to meet LEED silver certification, with two green roofs and an impermeable membrane vapor barrier “envelope” to produce estimated energy savings of $30,000 per year.
“Hooray! We made it!”
Webster Works campaign chair Jerry Ritter made sure to get that exhalation in before beginning his formal remarks at an event to celebrate the completion of the campaign, which raised $56.5 million and surpassed its $55 million goal despite a turbulent economic environment.
Ritter said he agreed to chair the campaign “because Webster University is a special place in the community and in our region … it's so important that we support this institution.”
Webster President Beth Stroble began the event by thanking donors — all 12,015 of them — and ticking off some of the major accomplishments of the campaign, which addressed three key areas of new classroom facilities, increased endowed scholarships and professorships for future students, and current operating needs through the Annual Fund.
The campaign created 45 new scholarships, made possible the new 94,323 square-foot East Academic Building and a future interdisciplinary sciences building, and saw faculty/staff participation in the Annual Fund increase from 21 percent in 2007-08 to 58 percent in 2010-11.
The Webster Works campaign also featured the largest-ever gift received from a graduate of one of Webster's international campuses, as well as 13 gifts of $1 million and above during the campaign — including three in just the campaign's final 12 months.
The largest gift in Webster's history came from former U.S. Ambassador George H. Walker III, who bestowed $10 million upon the University's School of Business & Technology. The school was named in his honor as the George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology.
Other major donors included Anheuser-Busch Foundation, Larry and Jinny Browning, Edward Jones, Emerson, Sam and Marilyn Fox, Michael and Noemi Neidorff and Centene, and Jane and Bruce Robert, who established the first endowed professorship in Francophone Studies.
Webster University Plans Call for Opening First Independent American Campus in Ghana
Following an extensive feasibility study and site visits, Webster University is planning to open a campus in Ghana for the 2013-2014 academic year. Webster's campus will be located in Accra, the nation's capital, on the coast of the Gulf of Guinea. Webster will be the first American university to establish a full residential campus with undergraduate and graduate programs in this important part of the world.
“Webster University's mission to transform students for individual excellence and global citizenship compels us to find new ways to open the world to our students,” said Webster University President Elizabeth (Beth) J. Stroble. “At the same time, Webster's 97-year history is marked by taking high-quality education to where it is needed to meet students' needs and to build capacity in locations across the United States, Europe and Asia.
The addition of a sub-Sahara campus to our international network will bring a new and distinctive dimension to the University and further establish Webster as the premier American university for global education.”
Ghana's National Accreditation Board has set forth a mission of using quality education delivery to accelerate the nation's socio-economic development. The government is focusing on many goals including increased access to all levels of education, improving infrastructural facilities, quality teaching and effective outcomes.
“Ghana is an important African country, from historical, political and educational points of view,” said Julian Schuster, Webster University senior vice president and provost. “Webster's mission and strategic goals align very well with the needs of the Ghanaian education system. Webster's presence in Ghana will enhance the global component of our curricula as well as build Ghana's educational capacity. This is a continuation of Webster's purposeful and intentional strategy of bringing the benefits of high-quality, American-style higher education to the broadest possible spectrum of the world's people and nations.”
Webster's Study Abroad Programs Receive Prestigious Recognitions
Webster University's Study Abroad program has received numerous another prestigious recognitions this year. According to the Institute of International Education's annual "Open Doors Report," Webster's long-term study abroad programs rank in the top 10 among all U.S. master's degree-granting institutions, and first in the same category among Midwestern institutions.
In September, for the second consecutive year, the University's Study Abroad program received special recognition, ranking in the top 2 percent of the nearly 1,400 colleges and universities surveyed, in U.S. News & World Report's 2013 "America's Best Colleges" edition.
And, in a special section entitled "College, Reinvented," the Chronicle of Higher Education singled out Webster as a model of international higher education, one that uses its global presence to recreate real intellectual circulation. According to the Chronicle story, "much of Webster's international mobility is simply baked into its structure.
The common curriculum and the assortment of foreign campuses makes it easier for U.S.-based students to study abroad without worrying if they'll get off track and graduate late. About 20 percent of the undergraduates go overseas."