Daniel Webster Society Dinner | Webster University

Daniel Webster Society Dinner

St. Louis Club Ballroom
November 4, 2010

Thank you, Brenda.  Welcome everyone. It is wonderful to be here at the St. Louis Club and in this room with the magnificent view of St. Louis and beyond.  It can be awe inspiring to look out and reflect on the expansive horizon and all the possibilities it presents.

Maybe that is why it brings us such joy to get together with you, the members of the Daniel Webster Society, every year.  As committed friends of the University, you have always believed in and supported Webster’s expansive horizon and our potential for growth in St. Louis and beyond. 

And we know that you genuinely enjoy hearing about all that is happening on our campuses worldwide.  Tonight we will present the year in review and give you a glimpse into our strategy for future growth. 

Tonight we will also share with you another aspect of our international reach in the form of the International Business Internship Exchange program and hear first hand stories of how the program is changing lives.

And finally, we will honor a cherished alumna and friend, Marianne Knaup and her late husband, Warren, with the 2010 Visionary Award.

We have a special evening planned for you.

Before we start with dinner, I would like to introduce you to a new member of our leadership team.  He is an accomplished scholar and academic administrator with both a personal and professional international orientation.  He serves as Provost and Senior Vice President, the chief academic officer and my chief advisor.  Julian, please stand and be recognized. 

Thank you, Julian.  We are happy to have you on our team.

Now I want to tell you about a new program that was launched this fall.

The Student Ambassadors program was developed to showcase the quality and diversity of our student body.  Student Ambassadors must meet specific qualifications and are expected to represent the University at various events throughout the year.  They are with us tonight.  Ambassadors, please stand when I call your name and once you are all standing we will welcome you.

Nadia Battle
Kelly Diecker
Nick Dunne
Laura Eschbacher
Ricardo Falla
Frank Hartfield
Tyler Holman
Hannah Ingram
Nicole King
Richard Lowry
Kevin McWilliams
Lauren Meyer
Matthias Muutuki
Chris Penberthy
Justin Raymundo
Mario Santander
Kurt Wiseheart

Daniel Webster Society members and guests, please welcome the first class of Student Ambassadors! 

Thank you all for being here tonight.  Please enjoy your dinner and conversation and take a peek now and then at part one of the year in review playing on the screens around the room.  We will be back after dinner to continue our program.

Thank you Diana for your support of the program and for what you make possible for our students. To Wilma and Stephanie for their hard work. And to our students for sharing your amazing experiences.

The International Business Internship Exchange is one outstanding example of the depth and breadth of our internationalism and the programs that present our students with opportunities for a global educational experience.  It is a remarkable program that began long before it was fashionable to explore exchanges of this nature.  It has a successful thirty-year history and we look forward to thirty more years.  

If you would like to be part of the future of the IBIE, I encourage you to pick up one of the pledge cards on your table.  The program and the students need your support.  You can give your completed card to the student ambassador at your table.

It was interesting to learn about IBIE’s three-decade history and what we can look forward to in the next thirty years.  As committed friends and supporters of Webster University, you are keenly aware of our remarkable history of successes and enjoy hearing about what is happening on campus in St. Louis and beyond.  Sit back now as I take you through the second part of the highlights of the last year at Webster University worldwide-a year of significant events that will have a remarkable impact on our future.

After our meeting last November, we headed right into the holiday season on the St. Louis campus where we started a new holiday tradition - the trimming of the Webster Global Holiday Tree with over forty ornaments from our campuses around the world.

Just before leaving for the holiday break, four of our staff members were notified that they had been chosen to participate in the Webster Global Exchange Program, which offers the opportunity for support staff from the U.S. and European campuses to work with staff at a Webster overseas campus. 

This spring, one of the chosen staff members, Ray Holtmann, a groundskeeper from our Facilities Operations department, went to Geneva where he planted a number of annuals, perennials and trees and designed a long-term plan for the grounds.

We returned from our holiday break in January to hear the news that our award-winning student magazine, the Ampersand, was one of 33 finalists for another top National Award, the Columbia Scholastic Press Association’s 2010 Crown Award.  The Ampersand received the Silver Crown Award.  And just this past weekend, the Ampersand won a Pacemaker from the Associated College Press.

Also in January, The Holden Public Policy Forum announced its partnership with FOCUS St. Louis to offer a new speaker series dedicated to the issues facing downtown.

In February, the Webster University International Human Rights Conference on the Right to Food and Water was held to explore the interesting controversy that exists over a person’s right to food and water.  The featured speakers came from Great Britain, Brazil, and the U.S. 

February also brought us the news of the NASPA Excellence Award presented to the Webster University Delegates’ Agenda Program. The Delegates’ Agenda brings student leaders together each fall and spring to share their goals and ideas for improving various aspects of campus life with University leadership.  

This is a unique opportunity, not only for students to work with the administration to advocate necessary change on campus, but also for the students to gain valuable public speaking and presentation experience. 

Speaking of public speaking, in February our Forensics and Debate Team won eight stage championships in the Missouri State Forensic championships, held on our campus.

March marked a homecoming for Webster alumna, Jennifer Johnson, a current member of the Lindemann Young Artist Program at the Metropolitan Opera.  Ms. Johnson returned to Webster for a solo recital of concert songs and operetta arias.

Also in March, Webster University, in particular, Professor Roy Tamashiro from the School of Education, and the Holden Public Policy Forum presented a historic live videoconferencing/webcast between the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.  

This was the first meeting, albeit symbolic, between President Truman and Hiroshima since the events of 1945 and created an opportunity to discuss the future of nuclear weapons in anticipation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference held last May.

Moving on from non-proliferation to poetry, in March we learned of the appointment of David Clewell, Professor of English, as Missouri’s second Poet Laureate.  David was selected for his work promoting literacy through poetry workshops and discussions for students and teachers across the area, and for giving poetry readings at schools, nursing homes and civic organizations across the state.

In April, U. S. Senator Kit Bond visited the Webster Groves campus to talk about his concept of “smart power,” and how it can help lead the U.S. to global peace with Islam. 

April brought the promise of spring and some important announcements at Webster.

One of the bigger events of the month was the naming of the business school - the George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology - to honor Bert Walker, the former U.S. ambassador to Hungary, philanthropist, civic leader, longtime friend of Webster University, and the 2009 recipient of the Daniel Webster Society Visionary Award.  Many family, friends and Webster faculty, staff, students, and alumni were on hand to offer their best wishes, as were two former U.S. Presidents via video.

More awards came in this month including 37 from the Missouri College Media Association for the students and faculty of The Journal student newspaper.  Included in that number was the first-place overall Sweepstakes Award.

April was also when the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation named School of Communications Professor Van McElwee, a 2010 Guggenheim Fellow.  This prestigious award is given to those who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts.

Moving on into May you could feel the excitement in the air as the end of the academic year was approaching and for over 1,100 students, graduation was near.  Webster alumnus Army Lieutenant Colonel Greg Gadson delivered the Commencement address to the graduates and over 9,000 guests at the Muny on May 8th.  Webster also presented alumna and award-winning children’s author, Patricia McKissack with an honorary doctorate.  It was a glorious spring day and a beautiful setting for our biggest party of the year! 

That Commencement was the second ceremony on my Commencement Tour 2010; the first was in October in Orlando, Florida.  Just a few days after the St. Louis event I was off to Columbia, South Carolina; then to Kansas City; followed by Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Bases; then to Vienna, where the second class of Global MBA students celebrated their commencement.  Overall it was a fun tour, a tour that included a t-shirt!

Later in May we received the news that Webster University alumnus Army Lieutenant Colonel Lloyd Austin III was nominated to lead U.S. forces in Iraq.  Lieutenant Colonel Austin is a graduate of our Kansas City campus.

Some would think that the summer months are quiet and calm.  Not so at Webster.

As you know, in early June, many of you gathered at my home for a garden party.

June also brought us the news that the Community Music School of Webster University received a $24,000 National Endowment for the Arts Grant for the school’s Preparatory Program, an arts curriculum centered on chamber music.

On July 23, David Greenhaw, President of our neighbor, Eden Theological Seminary, and I signed an Agreement that signals a new era of collaboration for the two institutions.  Webster and Eden have had a significant partnership for over 40 years, dating back to 1968 and the development of the joint library agreement.  Under that agreement, we shared library space, resources and services, and continue that partnership today.  

This new agreement transfers 5.5 acres of Eden’s land and three buildings to the University.  We also share parking and the University has a 7-year lease on over 4 acres on the corner of Lockwood and Bompart, a large green space that will continue to be available to Eden, Webster and the Webster Groves community at large.    In addition, David and I are forming a committee with membership from both our institutions to explore, develop and implement additional ways we can collaborate, in academic as well as support areas.

 David and I strongly believe that this growing partnership benefits not only our two institutions, but also the Webster Groves community at large:  both institutions have been part of the Webster Groves community for more than 180 years and together we enhance the quality of life as well as economic benefit to the city - more than 120 million dollars annually.

In July we learned that for the third time in as many years, Webster was named a 2010 Great Colleges to Work For. 

We received top ranking in granting graduate degrees to minorities according to a survey in Diverse: Issues in Higher Education.

In August it was announced that we retained our decade-long record of First-Tier Ranking in the U.S. News & World Report’s annual America’s Best Colleges edition. 

G.I. Jobs magazine recognized Webster as a Military Friendly School, ranking in the top 15% of those universities doing the most to embrace America’s veterans as students. 

And, for the first time, Webster was included in Forbes Magazine’s ranking of America’s Best colleges. 

Late August brought the joyful noise of the students coming back to campus.  There is convocation, orientation, moving day in the dorms, visits to the advisors office, and those tearful goodbyes to their families.

In August I traveled with a contingent of St. Louis business, labor, civic and governmental leaders led by U.S. Senators Kit Bond and Claire McCaskill to Beijing and Shanghai, China.  This trip was another step in the goal to establish a Midwest China Cargo and Commercial Hub.  Webster is playing an active role in this initiative and the Confucius Institute has loaned the Hub Commission a staff member for translation needs and protocol consultations.

In September Sheryl WuDunn, the Pulitzer-Prize winning co-author of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, spoke at the kick-off event of our third  Year of International Human Rights, this year focusing on women’s rights.

September is when we moved into the public phase of Webster Works: The Campaign for Webster University, our $55 million fund-raising endeavor. 

Later that month we exceeded and accelerated our goal to match the $100,000 challenge gift from Bert Walker for the George Herbert Walker III International Study Award for those students who aspire to add an international component to their global educational experience.

September was also the celebration of my inauguration as Webster’s 11th President.  We enjoyed a week of activities that began with Steppin’ with Stroble.  It was planned to be a leisurely walk through Webster Groves, but because of rainy weather, turned into a brisk hike through the parking lot!  Other activities included the screening of student films, a faculty symposium, art exhibits, a performance by the China Dance Troupe, and ended with the Installation ceremony at Powell Hall. 

The first week of October brought us to the annual community service day, Webster Works Worldwide.  This year, volunteers from our entire campus network from St. Louis and beyond worked on over 190 projects worldwide.

Also during the first week of October, Dr. Schuster and I traveled to South Korea for the Pan-Confucius Institute Conference.  This meeting was for the 15 Confucius Institutes worldwide that are sponsored by the Beijing Language and Culture University.  In total, there are 362 Confucius Institutes worldwide.  

At our meeting, we signed a memorandum of understanding encouraging future cooperation in such areas as the exchange of students and teaching personnel, and the organization of joint academic and scientific activities.

It has been a busy year!  I wish I could share with you every story of accomplishment and success of every student, faculty and staff member, and alumni from St. Louis and beyond. 

But, in the interest of saving time, I shared some highlights, especially those that show our global reach and how we are striving and reaching our goal to call upon our best to thrive in an increasingly competitive environment.  

This was the call to action I issued at our fall convocation ¾ that we tap our reservoir of skill, talent and point of view to lead and win on behalf of our students, ourselves and those we serve.

At an increasingly accelerated rate, the world of higher education demands that successful institutions find their competitive advantage. Many circumstances are contributing to the level of competition where previously a select few competed.  I will touch on two areas…

As of September 2009, 162 international branch campuses of higher education institutions exist, with 78 of those representing U.S. colleges.

The Council of College and Military Educators currently lists 92 higher education institutions that offer degree programs to the military.

Webster has and can continue to compete in this environment.  But we must have a strategy, a strategy that requires an investment of resources ¾ time, money, and people ¾ but most of all our ingenuity and teamwork.  

For some time we have prided ourselves on our “firsts.”  Webster differentiated itself as a pioneer, the first and one of the few to meet a particular educational need. Some examples include:

- We were one of the first women’s colleges west of the Mississippi

- We were among the first to serve military personnel’s graduate education needs on the country’s bases and installations.

- Long before being global was cool, we founded the Geneva campus in 1978, the first of many to come.

- And we were early adopters of fully online programs, with 19 degree and certificate programs fully online at this moment.

These are impressive, but in our current environment it is important to now aspire to achieve “bests.”  As all organizations that seek to differentiate ourselves, we must either do something of value that no one else does, or we must do that which is more common in an exceptionally valuable way. That is why we have focused our strategy for this year with two distinct priorities:

- To set a distinct standard for global education, and

- To be a university of first choice for military service students

No one else is as able as Webster to affect the distinct standard for global education that we define and, as a result, it is incumbent upon the entire Webster University community to perform at a very high level to achieve this bold vision. 

Our goal to be a first choice for military students will require us to look at the specific needs of this population in order to provide them an education of value that serves them for their lifetimes, in the military and beyond.

Just two weeks ago, we posted a survey on our website and asked our stakeholders around the world of Webster for their perspective on the most effective means for accomplishing these two differentiating strategies.  This survey just closed last Friday. We look forward to studying the input from our faculty, staff and students because those of you in this room know that the real competitive advantage for Webster University is its people--always has been and always will be. 

And next year, I look forward to sharing stories with you about our progress in achieving those two strategic goals.


Now it is my honor to move on to one of Webster’s most treasured “bests” and present the 2010 Visionary Award. 

This year’s Visionary Award honorees were high school sweethearts who became the sweethearts of Webster University. Marianne and the late Warren Knaup first became involved with Webster when, in 1954, Marianne enrolled as a non-traditional student to pursue her degree in education, while also raising her family.

Marianne experienced first-hand Webster innovative learning environment and grew to believe in Webster’s mission.  She once said, “Webster is a cutting edge school and I think that should be supported.” And that is exactly what Marianne and Warren did.

They were long time members of the Daniel Webster Society and generously funded seven endowed scholarships, which last year alone, provided financial support to 57 students.  Marianne and Warren’s unwavering commitment to Webster made a significant difference in the lives of our students.

However, Warren’s generosity went a lot further though.  For over five decades, he, and his family, shared Marianne with Webster. 

After graduating in 1967, Marianne didn’t abandon Webster.  She served on the boards of the Alumni Association, the Webster University Symphony, the Daniel Webster Society, and was a two-term member of the University’s Board of Trustees. She was a frequent member of the Alumni Phonathon Team.

Marianne is an alumna with a love of learning who encourages others to try Webster so they become what she says are, “thinkers rather than copiers.”

Marianne calls her relationship with Webster “a love affair,” one she shared with her high school sweetheart, Warren.  We celebrate this love affair and recognize a couple whose dedication and friendship has been indispensable in the advancement of Webster’s mission to be a “cutting edge school.”  Tonight we present the 2010 Daniel Webster Society Visionary Award to Marianne, and posthumously, Warren Knaup.

Here to say a few words on behalf of the Knaup Family is Don Ross, a former co-worker of Warren’s at Enterprise Rent-A-Car and close friend of the family.

Thank you, Karen and Don.  And Marianne, thank you for your friendship over the years.  I invite everyone to take this opportunity to leave a message for Marianne on the cards provided at the tables.  We will gather these and present them to Marianne.

To all of our treasured Daniel Webster Society members, thank you for your loyalty and dedication over the years.  As we think about and plan for Webster’s future in St. Louis and beyond, we know we can count on your steadfast support along the way.

I invite Brenda Newberry to the stage to close out the evening.