Webster Works Celebration Remarks | Webster University

Webster Works Celebration Remarks

Lot K - East Academic Building
April 26, 2012

President Elizabeth (Beth) J. Stroble
Trustee and Chair of Webster Works Jerry Ritter
Provost and Senior Vice President Dr. Julian Schuster
President of Student Ambassadors Lauren Meyer

Welcome and thank you for coming together today to celebrate the successful completion of Webster Works: The Campaign for Webster University! 

Today is a day to celebrate our collective success, to mark our accomplishments, and to envision our future as we follow the path toward our vision of global academic and operational excellence.

Webster Works: The Campaign for Webster University was the name of the comprehensive $55 million fund raising effort announced publicly in September 2010.  

On December 31, 2011, we not only met, but exceeded our campaign goal, raising $56.5M in support of Webster University. 

This campaign was designed to enrich the educational experience of Webster students in St. Louis and in the communities throughout the United States and the world that Webster calls home.

The funds raised through Webster Works have begun and will continue to transform the way our students learn and work and further the University mission of ensuring high quality learning experiences that transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence. 

To accomplish this, Webster Works focused on three key areas of strategic importance:

First, “Webster Works in the Classroom” focused on enhancing and expanding the physical facilities where our students study and learn. 

As the competitive environment in higher education intensifies, it is critical that Webster’s St. Louis campus be strengthened with the world-class facilities that are considered essential in attracting and retaining students and faculty. These facilities provide the needed infrastructure to assure global academic and operational excellence.

Our donors have generously provided funding that has supported and will continue to support each of these facilities projects:

• East Academic Building

• New interdisciplinary facilities for the sciences and our nationally ranked health sciences programs

• Sverdrup Hall renovations

• New Quad

The second component of the campaign was “Webster Works for the Future,  focused on building our endowment to provide scholarship and continuous future funding for vital university programs.

Webster Works gifts reduce the financial burden carried by students and their families by creating new endowed scholarships that will benefit current and future generations of Webster students.

Endowed scholarships meet a very real need for Webster students. For many, these scholarships determine whether or not students can pursue their education at Webster.

This campaign has been notable in not only the number of new endowed scholarships that have been created but also the amazing variety—especially those with an international dimension.

I am proud to tell you that 45 new endowed scholarship funds were created during the Webster Works campaign.

A growing endowment is also an integral part of Webster University’s ability to carry out our mission. Endowed gifts, permanently restricted for a designated purpose as outlined by the donor provide support in perpetuity, strengthening academic programs, enhancing teaching and faculty research, and expanding co-curricular opportunities for students.

A special emphasis was made to provide endowment support for the Community Music School at Webster University  AND endowment support for faculty salaries, and academic programs, knowing that the impact on students now and in the future will be profound.

A few examples of generous endowment funds created during the campaign include:

• The Jane and Bruce Robert Professorship in French and Francophone Studies

• The Fund for Advancement of Global Citizenship established by Roy Tamashiro 

• The Lawrence Jehling Endowed Scholarship for International Students

• The FINIAL Capital S.A. Scholarship established by Omar Danial (BA ‘91, MBA ‘96) (the largest gift to date received from an international campus alum)

The third component of the campaign was “Webster Works Today,” which provided funds for the day-to-day operations of Webster University.  Annual support is vital in supporting the core academic mission of the University - high-quality learning experiences that transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence.

The Webster University Annual Fund is one of the most powerful means of reaffirming and sustaining that mission. Annual giving is largely unrestricted, meaning that the annual fund gifts we have received typically go to work immediately for the University and its schools and programs.

Unrestricted support pays for undergraduate scholarships, student programs, faculty support for research and course development, funding for student participation in scholarly conferences, library acquisitions, and classroom and equipment purchases.

Each and every one of you here today played a part in the success of the Webster Works Campaign.  Here are just a few of the highlights:

• 12, 015 donors made gifts during the time of the campaign

• Faculty and Staff participation in the annual fundraising campaign grew from 21% in 2007- 2008 to 58% in 2010-2011

• During the campaign, Daniel Webster Society membership grew from 173 members in 2003-04, to 256 in 2010-11, up 48%.  In addition, the number of alumni DWS members nearly doubled during the campaign from 53 to 104.

• 239 annual scholarships have been awarded since the DWS Scholarship program´s inception in 2007-2008.

This is indeed a time to celebrate.  I now would like to ask Jerry Ritter, Webster University Trustee and Chair of the Webster Works Campaign to come forward. 

Jerry Ritter Remarks

Good afternoon.

It is the role and responsibility of the Webster University Board of Trustees to work in partnership with President Stroble, Provost Schuster and the University Administration toward the fulfillment of the mission and vision of the institution by continually evaluating the needs of the University and devising strategies to meet those needs.

Webster University is a special place, and one that is vitally important to the economic life of St. Louis, our region, our nation, and our world. I agreed to chair Webster Works: The Campaign for Webster because it was so important to raise funds to help this institution move forward.   With over 150,000 alumni across the globe, Webster University students are changing the world and it is our responsibility to ensure they are prepared.  That is why Webster Works.

I am so pleased by the wonderful support that we received for this campaign. I want to recognize some of the leadership gifts of the campaign: 

First, Ambassador George H. Walker.  As most of you know, Bert has made the largest gift in the University's history. His commitment of $10 million has and will continue to transform the George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology, putting it in a distinguished fraternity of quality international business schools. Bert has been a great friend of the University; he has influenced major gifts from a variety of corporations and individuals, and has championed Webster locally, nationally, and internationally.  His service as a member of the Board of Trustees for over 37 years is without parallel.  (Applause)

I also want to acknowledge Jinny and Larry Browning who believe fervently in the value of a solid liberal arts education. They have been long-time supporters of Webster University, providing leadership operating and capital support during previous campaigns.   Jinny is also a strong and devoted supporter of the Community Music School of Webster University. The Brownings are once again helping to shape the future of Webster through their generous support of the sciences. Jinny and Larry made a generous commitment early in the campaign of $3 million to support the construction of new science facilities; we are sorry that they could not be here with us today. (Applause)

Other donors to the campaign who have committed $1 million and who have been publicly announced include the Anheuser-Busch Foundation, Centene and Michael and Noemi Neidorff, Edward Jones, Emerson, Sam and Marilyn Fox, and Jane and Bruce Robert.  In total, we received 14 gifts of one million and above during the time of the Webster Works Campaign – 3 of those were received in the last 12 months of the campaign.    In addition to these gifts, we secured additional significant commitments from Webster Trustees, alumni, friends, and leading St. Louis, national and international corporations and foundations. A list of all donors who made cumulative gifts during the time of the campaign are listed in the program – please join me in thanking these generous donors (LEAD APPLAUSE). 

In addition, Webster is proud to recognize donors who made cumulative gifts of $25,000 and above as part of a new plaza that is being created between the East Academic Building and the CMS.  This plaza will create a dramatic entrance into the new Quad from Garden Avenue and we are pleased that our leadership donors will be recognized as part of this new space.  Renderings of the new plaza are in display at the future construction site; we encourage you to visit the site during the reception following today’s program.

Again, please accept my deep appreciation to each and every one of you who helped make the Webster Works Campaign a success.

And now I am pleased to introduce Provost and Senior Vice President Julian Schuster.

Provost and Senior Vice President Julian Schuster Remarks

Thank you , Jerry. 

Webster University is first and foremost committed to providing student-centered education to a diverse student body and to educating citizens in a global society. These attributes position Webster for great success during these changing times. 

The benefits of the Webster Works Campaign are already being felt by our students, faculty, staff, and the community at large.

Behind me you see the East Academic Building, which was officially opened on March 28th.  The building’s design encourages collaboration and interdisciplinary studies, and ignites new ideas with creativity and intellect. 

It also captures many of Webster’s distinguishing characteristics, such as bringing together different learning styles, a commitment to environmental sustainability and energy efficiency, and providing students with small class sizes and individual attention. 

Since the opening, we have hosted our first Global Leader in Residence, our inaugural Sustainability Conference as well as numerous speakers and meetings. 

The opening of the East Academic Building represents a defining moment for Webster as we move toward completion of our new campus master plan, which will help direct future development of our St. Louis campus for the next 15 years and beyond.

As Dr. Stroble mentioned earlier, thanks to the generosity of Jane and Bruce Robert, we have established Webster University’s first full-time endowed professorship.  Endowed professorships allow us to attract and recruit the top academics in their fields, having a profound impact on achieving and maintaining overall academic excellence at Webster. In March, we announced the Lionel Cuillé was named the inaugural Jane and Bruce Robert Professor of French and Francophone Studies, effective August 2012.

Enhanced scholarship support has also had an impact on Webster’s academic excellence.  This year, we increased freshmen enrollment by 12% and were delighted to see our entering class had the strongest combined GPA and ACT scores since 2006. We also accomplished growing the freshman class in size and quality while improving diversity – a feat hard to accomplish by many of our peers.

The benefits of our campaign also have long-term impact.  In February, we announced that the Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence Chess or SPICE will relocate to Webster from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, on June 1, 2012. In addition, all members of the reigning national collegiate champion Texas Tech “A” chess team will transfer to Webster and be enrolled at the University in the 2012-2013 academic year.

Chess is increasingly valued for its instructional impact.  Globally, educators recognize chess as a tool to cultivate interest and success in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) disciplines. At Webster, SPICE and Susan Polgar will be leaders in promoting chess as a vehicle for global diversity and academic excellence.  Chess has always been a global game and this important step brings a global game in these global times to a truly global university.

Financial support is critical to our success. It is critical to our ability to attract and retain the best students, the best faculty, and the best staff.

As we move forward, as we seize the momentum we have created, we do so with purpose. For out there, and around the world, there are great achievements to be made. We at Webster can take pride in the fact that we have a vision, we are acting with vision, and we are making a positive difference in the world. 

And now I would like to introduce Lauren Meyer.  Lauren has been a student at Webster for the last six years. She graduated from Webster in 2010 as a double major in Business Administration and Management. As an undergraduate student she served as a Resident Assistant, the Student Coordinator of Building Operations, and a student representative on the Presidential Search Committee. As a graduate student, Lauren is earning her Master's of Arts in Human Resource Management.

She also works for the University as a Graduate Assistant of Leadership and Learning. She has been a member of the Student Government Association, the Master Planning Steering Committee, and is currently serving as President of the Student Ambassadors.

Lauren Meyer Remarks

In the fall of 2006 I was eighteen years old and arrived at Webster University to begin what was, at the time, the most exciting chapter of my life. On my campus tour the year before I felt like everything about Webster seemed so new and amazing. There was a brand new library, just a few years old. There was a cafeteria called Marlettos recently remodeled – I thought the place looked like a Mongolian BBQ! There were two brand new residential spaces, West and East hall that my class would be the very first to live in. Webster truly seemed like THE place to be, and it was! The new residence halls were an outstanding addition to student life on this campus. Program and event opportunities increased due to our new space and residential population.

Just a year later we renovated Maria Hall and Loretto Hall. These were spaces I have witnessed the difference first hand. Loretto Hall was a dormitory my first year, and not the best looking one at that. Just a year later it’s a beautifully renovated administrative core of our campus. Maria Hall went through a 4 million dollar renovation to become, in my opinion, one of the best places to live on this campus. A gorgeous four story residence hall that fosters one of the strongest residential communities that exists.  I can say with confidence, I’ve seen growth and change on this campus and I’ve seen the true benefit it has had on our students.

I remember talking with upperclassmen during my first couple of years here and hearing them say how fortunate I was to be at Webster now, now that we had all these new buildings, resources, growth. As I reflect on the growth of this campus over the last 10, 15, and 20 years, I wonder how many upperclassmen have been having similar sentiments for a long time. I find myself, after six years at Webster, saying “I wish I was a freshman now! I wish I had four years of classes at the East Academic Building! You’re so lucky you just got here!”

Isn’t that a great thing to feel though? To feel like the next class of students, the next generation at Webster is going to have it even better than I did? Doesn’t that mean that our degrees will only grow stronger and our brand will only get better? Webster has proven to me time and time again that investments made here are made in support of being “student first.” As I look toward our most recent accomplishments and our near future, I feel more sure of that than ever before.

At a time when student loans and student debt weighs heavily on many students, the WebsterWorks campaign has brought new academic scholarships that we and future Webster students can take advantage of. WebsterWorks supported the construction of the East Academic Building, an amazing addition to our academic and co-curricular space on our home campus. The campaign will also support improvements to other academic and social spaces that students will enjoy in new and better ways. Lastly, the campaign will help us move forward toward our new Master Plan, a plan that is student first in nature and design. It’s clear to me that while everyone should celebrate this huge accomplishment for the University, students should feel the most proud and most excited about what it means for us. As a soon-to-be alumnus, it makes me feel even more confident in the strength of my degrees, even more invested in Webster’s reputation, and even more interested to be a part of this family long after graduation.

I look forward to my next campus tour, not as a perspective student, but as an alumnus. In 10 years, Webster may look a bit differently to me than it does now, but I will be reminded that change happens on this campus in support of its students. I cannot wait to see how our future student generations will shape the growth of this amazing institution.

President Elizabeth (Beth) J. Stroble

I’d now like to ask Dr. Schuster and Jerry Ritter to join me at the podium.

Jerry, your leadership, your commitment, and your dedication as Chair of the Webster Works Campaign were instrumental to our successful conclusion.  On behalf of Webster, we would like to present you with a small token of our appreciation for helping make today a reality.

At the conclusion of today’s program, I encourage you view the renderings for the new plaza, to tour the East Academic Building, and to stop by the plaza at the Quad entrance to the East Academic Building to see the donor bricks.

In closing, we hold worthy aspirations grounded in a history of achievement.  We have always known how to evolve and transform ourselves for all the right reasons—to meet the needs of students where they are.

We seek the very best for our students—that they will be individually excellent citizens of the globe.

We enjoy the generous support of our alumni and friends.

Our momentum is tangible.

Our actions and our vision can and do make a positive difference.

We can and should celebrate our accomplishments to date and the successes that I know we will enjoy going forward.

Thank you again for making Webster Works – the Campaign for Webster University a success – now let’s celebrate!