Shepherd's Center Remarks | Webster University

Shepherd's Center Remarks

Shepherd's Center
1333 W. Lockwood Ave.
January 13, 2012

President Elizabeth (Beth) J. Stroble

Thank you, Roy. Good morning everyone. I am so happy to be here and to have this opportunity to speak to you today.

I understand I am following a line of distinguished Webster University speakers that include….Gary Ford, who talked about Social Media and how to start a Facebook page; Paul Davis, who gave you a feel for his role as a symphony conductor; and Don Conway-Long, who has spoken here several times on such topics as Islam 101 and Masculinity.

I am very happy that Webster is contributing to your programming with such interesting speakers and topics of discussion that fuel your adventures in learning.

Today I will talk about Transforming Lives and Enriching Communities.

I begin with a look at the similarities between the Shepherd’s Center and Webster University to illustrate the theme of my presentation.

We share beginnings based in part on the concept of filling unmet needs.

In 1972, the Shepherd’s Centers of America was founded to provide “meaning and purpose for adults throughout their mature years” with programs that inspire learning and service to others.

In 1988, the Shepherd’s Center of Webster/Kirkwood opened to serve this community.

In 1915 Loretto College (which became Webster College and then Webster University) was founded as one of the first women’s colleges west of Mississippi.

We continue to share a similar mission – to identify and fill the unmet educational needs of the communities we serve.

The Shepherd’s Centers of America began in Kansas City in 1972, the same place and year Webster opened a campus in Kansas City, one of its first extended campuses.

Today, there are 75 Shepherd’s Centers across the country and 109 Webster University worldwide campuses.

The Shepherd’s Center was founded by three congregations who pulled together for a common cause: to empower older adults to continue to enrich their lives with opportunities for personal growth.

At Webster we share that collaborative spirit between our faculty, staff and partner institutions to ensure high-quality learning experiences that transform our students for global citizenship and individual excellence.

The Shepherd’s Center and Webster also share the notion that partnerships are an integral part of a successful organization and a vital community.

Both of our organizations are playing significant roles in transforming the lives of the people we serve, which in turn, enriches our communities.

I am very happy to be here to tell you about what lies ahead for Webster University, locally and globally. Before I look forward, I would like to continue with a brief history of the University to illustrate how we are furthering our mission across the globe.

Let’s take a quick tour of Webster’s history:

1919 : Two French students enroll, marking the start of Webster’s commitment to international education. 
Today, 119 countries are represented in our student body worldwide.

The flags you see in front of Webster Hall represent the nations with the most students.

(Afghanistan, Austria, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Russia)

1931 : International student program initiated. Nearly 200 faculty members and students studied abroad or came to Webster from Asia, Europe, and South America.

Today, 38.6% of our students have a study abroad experience – far above the national average.

1948 : First two African-American students.

Today, Webster is recognized as graduating more African-Americans with master’s degrees than any other non-profit institution.

1962 : First male students enrolled. (Fine Arts program)

Today, 42% of our students are male.

1966 : Loretto-Hilton Center completed.

Today, the Loretto-Hilton Center of Performing Arts features performance by the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis and Opera Theatre of St. Louis as well as Webster University Conservatory of Theatre Arts performances.

This slide is from one of the many groundbreaking weekend festivities. In the photo are Conrad Hilton and one of our alums, Marsha Mason.

1967 : Transfer to a lay board of directors

Through the years we have many community and business leaders serve on our Board of Trustees.

1974 : Invitation issued by the U.S. Department of Defense to offer programs at a military location – Fort Sheridan.

Today, Webster is one of the largest providers of graduate military education in the U.S. and recognized as a military friendly institution. (42 military bases/installations)

1978 : The first European campus opened in Geneva, Switzerland.

Today, we are the only Tier 1,private, nonprofit university with campus locations around the world including metropolitan, military, online and corporate, as well as American-style traditional campuses in North America, Europe and Asia.

1999: First six online classes offered.

Today, we have over 3,600 students enrolled in over 600 online courses.

2001 : The University acquired the St. Louis Symphony Community Music School, now known as the Community Music School of Webster University.

Faculty and students from the Community Music School often perform around town. For example, the Jazz Lab Ensemble performed at Art & Air last June and the Suzuki Class gave a demonstration at the Magic House in August.

2002: 100th campus opens in Winghaven in St. Charles County, MO.

2003: Emerson Library opens on Webster Groves campus.

2004 : Creation of the World Traveler Program, in which qualified students throughout the University may receive free round-trip airfare to support their study abroad at Webster.

2006 : The Old Post Office campus opened for classes.

2009 : Confucius Institute opened at the Old Post Office. CI instructors in 26 schools in the St. Louis region.

That is just a brief accounting of what we have been up to over the last 97 years!  As we approach our centennial in 2015, we draw strength from our accomplishments and our foundation upon which we will build a bright and impactful future.

Along with our focus on providing quality, global educational experiences for our students, we also encourage them to get involved in the community.

Many of our students, faculty and staff are engaged in the Webster Groves and Kirkwood communities and you will see them at many events and establishments around town.

As a matter of fact, we have a newly formed group called the Webster Students Community Connection whose purpose is to strengthen the relationship of the Webster Groves community and Webster University through collaborative efforts and outreach.

You will see them in a service orientation at our annual Webster Works Worldwide Community Service Day, this year marking the 17th year of this event. This year our 1949 volunteers across the globe worked on 192 projects, donated 6843 service hours.

And you will see Webster folks at the bookstores, restaurants, record stores, and the coffee shops.

According to the RCGA, Webster University’s economic impact on the community totals $118,800,000 direct, indirect and induced.

• Webster University operations

• Opera Theatre of Saint Louis/Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

• University student and employee spending

We are a proud sponsor of the Webster Groves Community Days parade.

• Webster also sponsors:

    o The Farmer’s Market

    o The popular Gazebo Series

    o Old Webster Jazz & Blues Festival

    o Art & Air

    o Heart of the Community Awards

    o Festival of Nations

Member of the Webster Groves/Shrewsbury Chamber of Commerce

• Have a staff member dedicated to Community Relations and engagement who also serves on the board of the Shepherd’s Center

• Symphony performances out in the community

• Book Club

• Emerson Library

• Conservatory of Theatre Arts performances, art exhibits, music concerts

• Orchard Coffee Concert series at Bethesda Orchard (partnering with Bethesda Health Group)

• And, the Shepherd’s Center’s “Taste of Webster-Kirkwood”

We continue to grow our community engagement with important partnerships with local organizations.

Community Partnerships:

• Opera Theatre of Saint Louis

• Regional Alliance For The Troops (RAFTT)

• Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

• Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis

• St. Louis Holocaust Museum & Learning Center

• St. Louis Science Center

• Muny Partnership

We are very excited about the future with all of our partners. In particular we are developing our Master Plan for the Webster Groves campus as well as special projects with neighboring institutions.

Our Master Plan:

Last July, Webster University engaged Sasaki & Associates, an internationally recognized and celebrated planning and urban design firm, to work with us as we develop our St. Louis campus master plan, which will guide us for the next 15 years and beyond.

 We know that universities must evolve to provide relevant and meaningful learning experiences for the changing needs of students in the 21st century.

The Assessment Phase will include a survey of existing property, site analysis of campus surroundings, assessment of traffic and parking conditions, infrastructure analysis and overall campus sustainability assessment.

The Exploration Phase will include: an examination of options for long and near-term campus development utilizing the existing campus, the University’s off site properties, and an assessment of opportunities to acquire new properties. 

After a preliminary presentation of the options, there will be a refinement of the options and a consensus will be reached about the preferred direction of the master plan. The main focus of this phase is review and refinement of alternatives and building consensus.

The Documentation Phase will focus on the development and documentation of draft and final plan. After completion of this phase, outreach strategies will include:

The Community Engagement Phase will focus on assisting the University in presenting the final plan to its various constituents, including the city of Webster Groves.  The final plan will include all the requirements by the city. At least two public presentations are planned.

Our committee includes a member of the Webster Groves community. (Nancy Klepper, Neighborhood Advisory Board and Charlie Downs, owner of Cyrano’s)

Eden Theological Seminary –

• You are probably aware that since 1924 Webster University and Eden Theological Seminary have enjoyed a long relationship as neighbors. And over the past 40 years we have enjoyed being partners, sharing facilities and working together in a way to benefit all of our students. 

We lease their athletic fields and they have use of our Fitness Center. We consolidated libraries into the Emerson Library and Eden students, faculty and staff have full access to the Emerson’s worldwide resources.  

In 2011, we acquired 5.25 acres of Eden campus property, including the Luhr Library, Wehrli Center and the White House. I have said before that this property would make an excellent location for new science facilities, in which the university is in dire need of; however, the manner in which we develop this property will depend on the outcome of the university’s master plan.

We already share space for library studies and recreation and this past fall, we made arrangements for our students to be able to attend worship services in the Eden Theological chapel. It may sound like a small step, but it is an important part in a longstanding and evolving relationship.

Webster Groves School District

• We are very excited about the opportunities we are exploring with the Webster Groves School District.

• Our last meeting, just before the holiday break, was a lively brainstorming session that generated a number of possibilities.

• It is the vision of the partnership between Webster Groves School District and Webster University to implement collaborations in the broadest scope encompassing academic, administrative, and community outreach activities.

• Webster Groves School District and Webster University fully recognize and are committed to sharing opportunities to enhance our mutual capacity to achieve our respective missions and visions.  The institutions are committed to advocating for collaborative ventures as a forum for discovery and sharing of knowledge for our students, faculty and staff, and the community at large.

Public Art Project

• The Webster University Art Council at Webster University focuses on art on campus that appears outside of the traditional art settings of studio/classrooms, museums, and galleries.

Vision for Public Art

Public art at Webster University serves many purposes related to education, sense of place, and engagement.

We are pleased to have two members of the community on the Art Council-- they are Jennifer Conrad and Janice Seele (See-Lee). We value their participation.

And I was invited to serve on the Webster Groves Community Arts Foundation and look forward to the work we will be doing together.

As you can see, Webster University continues to embrace the community and contribute to its positive energy. 

Webster University shares your passion for livelong learning and we strive to conceive and develop innovative ways to meet the educational needs of the people we serve. Education is vital for a vibrant community to meet the challenges we face today. 

Webster is both proud and happy to be partnering with you to provide meaningful and interesting programming for the adults you serve. We look forward to the opportunities ahead to work together to transform lives and enrich our community.