History | Webster University


2019 will mark the 25th anniversary of WebsterLEADS, the University's undergraduate student leadership development program. The humble beginnings of the "Student Leadership Development Program" focused on targeting the handful of involved students on the Webster Groves campus and providing them with leadership skills.

Today, WebsterLEADS has evolved into is a singularly trans-global leadership development program, with over 250 students on Webster's campuses in Webster Groves, Leiden, Vienna and Geneva are actively pursuing the Leadership Certificate. Because the components of the Certificate can be completed on any of those campuses worldwide, the result is the development of global citizens who are equipped to lead from wherever they are. WebsterLEADS provides a leadership development program that combines the scholarship of leadership thought and theory with hands-on experience and personal reflection. Over the past two decades, WebsterLEADS has experienced many milestones:

Year Event
1994 In the fall of 1994, research on establish student leadership program on the Webster Groves campus began, with a focus on five dimensions: retreats, workshop sessions, campus activities, awards & recognition, and a mentor program.
1995 This project narrowed to four components: a core curriculum, practical experiences, in-service training, and community service. The program aimed to enhance student leadership and diversity training, resulting in a co-curricular certificate.

The first retreat was held, entitled: "Student Leadership in the 21st Century: Celebrating Differences, Appreciating Commonalities."
1996 The program became formally known as the Student Leadership Development Program (SLDP). Involvement in SLDP grew to 60 active students, and a points system was installed to track participation in the core components of the program.

The second annual retreat was held, entitled, "Building Strong Foundations."
1998 The mission statement for the SLDP was revised:

The Student Leadership Development Program at Webster University provides students with the knowledge, education, and development to assume leadership on campus, in society, and the global workforce.

Workshops were added as a core component of the Leadership Certificate curriculum, focusing on skill building. The 100-point system introduced in 1996 was modified to reflect five key components: a leadership class, practical experience, workshops, retreats, and community service.

This format, referred to today as the "5+2 system," in which a student completes each of the five components and repeats any two of them, provided the structure of the Leadership Certificate.

The annual retreat was spun off into two distinct retreats: The Emerging Leaders Retreat (ELR) and the Advanced Leaders Retreat (ALR).
1999 The Webster Circle of Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK), one of the oldest leadership honor societies in the world, is formally chartered.
2005 The WebsterLEADS program is launched on the Webster campus in Geneva, Switzerland, marking the first step in globalizing the Leadership Certificate program.
2006  A one-credit seminar course on entitled, "Ethics and Leadership On Campus" is added as a course requirement for the Leadership Certificate.
2007  The 'Community Service Involvement' component of the Certificate is re-named the 'Service Learning Initiative' to reflect a more contemporary and developmental understanding of the concept.
2010  The WebsterLEADS program is launched on the Webster campus in Vienna, Austria.
2011  The WebsterLEADS program is launched on the Webster campus in Leiden, the Netherlands
2012  A class in focusing on leadership and service learning theory is added as a course alternative for the service-learning component in the Certificate program.
2014  A process to develop learning outcomes for all Certificate components is initiated.

Efforts to establish more intentional connections to, and collaborations with the programs in St. Louis, Geneva, Vienna and Leiden are initiated, with the goal of establishing the WebsterLEADS as a truly trans-global leadership development program.

Program management and participant tracking are embedded within the Career Planning and Development Center. As a result, students will be able to generate a co-curricular transcript to accompany their academic transcript for the first time.
2017 Spring 2017 ushered in a new setup for the WebsterLEADS program, bringing together a cohort of students to complete the leadership requirements. Under this cohort setup, each semester a new group of 20-25 students will start their WebsterLEADS process together and work collaboratively to foster growth within their leadership talents.