Brief snapshots of Webster events, donors, alumni, and students.
Donor Spotlight: Erin Rivers BA '01, MA '05
An Artist's Personal Journey
As an undergraduate Studio Art major in the Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts, Erin Rivers spent a lot of time in the drawing studio and near the ceramics kiln. But when her work was featured last spring at the William & Florence Schmidt Art Center on the campus of Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville, there were no drawings or pottery on display. Instead, because her journey as an artist has included a few detours along the way, she exhibited a photo essay inspired by the work of her late father.
When I was in college, my dad purchased a Hasselblad, a complex camera with an unfamiliar name. He loved photography…. He also liked to go on road trips by himself, exploring museums and towns. When he returned he would tell Mom and me about the people and places that he discovered.
After his death in 2005, Erin found camera bags stashed away, and rolls of undeveloped film that offered fresh glimpses into her father’s discoveries. She gradually learned how to operate the Hasselblad and a light meter, and in 2010 Erin decided to follow her dad’s route through Indiana and chronicle the journey as he would have done.
This journey was about exploring something that he and I both enjoyed, and sharing an experience that was personal to him.
At Webster, Erin developed a style that used clean lines to create blocked—almost mapped—paintings. She enjoys methodical planning and the process involved in creating art. Her advisor, Art Department chair Tom Lang, served as a mentor and taught her about print-making. This background helped Erin evolve naturally from a painter to a photographer. “I use the same eye that I developed for painting to compose my photographs. I still look for clean lines and blocked images. My photographs could easily become abstract paintings.”
An annual donor to the Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts, Erin now invests in the journeys of future artists. She gives to strengthen the Fine Arts program—which will enhance the value of her degree while improving the resources available for current students. “All of the experiences they have, both in school and after they leave, will be material they can use for their work,” Erin said, “as long as they’re willing to give it time and pay attention to what’s happening around them.”
[O]ne of the last trips that Dad went on was to Indiana to visit the Duesenberg and Studebaker museums and James Dean's hometown of Fairmont. I remember him telling me about Dean's grave and how the headstone was covered with lipstick kisses and pennies that people left behind. I wish I had gone with him.
Erin’s travel log speaks warmly of the people she encountered in Fairmount: Lenny at the James Dean Gallery, and Tootie at the Visitor's Center (she made milkshakes for Dean when he was kid), but people rarely appear in her photographs. The places she photographs are deserted, like abandoned movie sets. That’s the essence she seeks to capture—a slice of aloneness. Still, she doesn’t feel alone while working. In fact, she feels closer to her dad when using his camera and seeing the places he visited.
I will say that if he were here, I would ask him to go with me. Every single time.
Italicized text indicates excerpts from Erin’s travel log. Photo: Greentown, Indiana, by Erin Rivers. To view more photographs, visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/erinrivers.
Marianne Knaup BA '67 and Warren Knaup: 2010 Visionary Award Winners
In 2009-2010, 57 students received aid from scholarships endowed by the Knaups
Marianne Knaup BA '67 and her late husband, Warren, raised their family within walking distance of Webster's campus, where Marianne enrolled as a nontraditional student in 1954. After completing her undergraduate degree, Marianne continued to take non-credit classes on campus until President Jacqueline Grennan suggested that Marianne had been immersed in Webster’s culture too long. As Marianne put it, "She kicked me out!"
Fortunately, she didn't stay kicked out. After earning her MA from Washington University, Marianne returned to Webster as an Alumni Phonathon volunteer, a member of the Alumni Board, and Homecoming Class Chair for her 30th reunion. She and Warren were charter members of the Daniel Webster Society; Marianne served on its board for six years. She also served two terms on the University's Board of Trustees.
In 1995, Webster recognized Marianne's service with the Mary Elizabeth Newell Award, given annually to a graduate who demonstrates loyalty, commitment, and concern for the University. "I believe very much in the type of education that's offered here," Marianne said at the time. "[Webster creates] thinkers rather than copiers."
The Knaups facilitated the creation of thinkers by establishing seven endowed scholarships at Webster. Their generosity has proved transformative to the students who have received support from the Sisters of Loretto Founders Scholarship, the Sister Mary Mangan Scholarship, the Sister Gabriel Mary Hoare Scholarship, the Marianne and Warren C. Knaup Endowed Scholarship for Women Veterans of the Armed Forces, or the three University School Scholarships. In 2009-2010, 57 students received aid from scholarships endowed by Marianne and Warren.
On November 4th at the annual Daniel Webster Society dinner, President Elizabeth (Beth) J. Stroble presented the 2010 Visionary Award to the late Warren Knaup and to alumna Marianne Knaup in recognition of their commitment to helping advance Webster's institutional mission.
Back to top
A Finely Woven Future: Webster University's 2010 Scholarship Dinner
"The theme of tonight’s gathering is the interlacing of the generosity of our treasured scholarship donors with the dreams and goals of our inspiring students. ... Imagine the trail of the woven fabric we celebrate tonight." With these words, President Beth Stroble welcomed donors and student scholarship recipients to the 2010 Scholarship Dinner, held on April 26th in Grant Gymnasium.
Donor Sam Clark, left, chats with Lindsey Warren, 2009-2010 recipient of the Byron Grant Annual Scholarship in Musical Theatre.
The dinner is one of the most high-energy events on Webster's calendar, as donors meet face-to-face with the students whose lives they have transformed.
In 2009-2010, 236 students received a total of $414,986 in endowed and restricted scholarships. Donors also contributed generously to the Daniel Webster Society Annual Scholarship program, providing one-time scholarships to 48 students.
The donor speaker for the evening was John Nickel '75, president of Switch, a production design company, and a regular contributor to the Peter E. Sargent Endowed Scholarship in Lighting Design.
President Stroble ended the evening with these words, "To our donors: your one thread of generosity weaves with another to produce a stronger form. What kind of lives and futures will be woven as a result of your gifts? Is there a future Tony winning actor or playwright among us? A biologist who may make a life-changing discovery in the lab? A future Pulitzer Prize winning journalist? An engaging teacher who inspires a passion for learning in the classroom and beyond? A business leader with a vision for recovery in these challenging times? Is there a future university president?
"To our students: Webster is your loom. This is where, through the support of your donors, you can assemble the threads — the materials provided you to reach your goals or discover the path you want to take. You have the desire and vision, the support and tools, to create a finely woven future."
"My success has been a direct result of your generosity."
It started with a passion—in fact, two passions. When Webster alumna Marianne Gleich '66 and her husband, Peter, created annual scholarships at Webster five years ago, they did so based on their long-time passions. A French major at Webster, Marianne taught French at Lindbergh High School. Peter, an International Business major at Saint Louis University, retired from Sigma-Aldrich. The couple funded two annual scholarships, one in each of their major fields of study.
The Gleichs' scholarship aid became available just when Alicia Martineau needed it. Alicia had developed a passion for French language and culture at the age of 16 while backpacking through France with her sister. She came to Webster to study both of the Gleichs' subject areas, planning to blend her interests in International Business and French into a career.
Alicia received the first Marianne E. and Peter A. Gleich Scholarship in International Business in 2005-06. She wrote to them, "I financially support myself, so this scholarship relieves a heavy burden."
Today, Alicia lives in Paris and works as an e-communications account manager for a French medical education company. She finds her job richly rewarding, and she still remembers that the Gleichs helped make it possible. She reconnected with them last summer, writing: "I am proud to tell you today that my success has been a direct result of your generosity during my time at Webster."
Alicia invited the Gleichs to contact her on their next visit to Paris, so that they could celebrate together. "Please know that I have not forgotten how much your generosity contributed to my story," she told them. "One must have the means to realize their goals; passion alone does not always suffice."
But passion can be an excellent place to start.
Peter and Marianne Gleich (left) meet with Alicia Martineau in Paris, January 2010.
Scholarship Endowment Fund for
Minority Business Students Reaches $100,000
In 2001, Tony and Kim Thompson endowed a scholarship fund for minority graduate students at Webster University. Last fall, they achieved their goal of funding a $100,000 endowment by donating the final $30,000 to the Kim and Anthony Thompson Endowed Scholarship.
"It's been said that an investment in knowledge pays the best interest," said Dr. Benjamin Akande, dean of Webster's School of Business & Technology. "Tony's investment in his alma mater helps us continue to bring the best education to our students. We celebrate him as an outstanding alumnus and friend of Webster."
Thompson, the Founder and CEO of Kwame Building Group, graduated from Webster University in 1988 with a Master of Business Administration in finance. In 2003, Thompson received the Webster University Distinguished Alumni Award.
"We hope to ensure a stronger minority presence in the future workforce by helping minority students achieve their higher educational goals," said Thompson.
Kwame Building Group, headquartered in St. Louis, has been named one of the top 50 companies in the nation most supportive of historically Black college and university engineering schools, and was one of just five companies on the list that was not a Fortune 500 firm. Kwame is a pure program and construction management firm, providing an array of project management services for public and private sector projects, including educational facilities, major airports, light-rail systems, hospitals, and government facilities. www.kwamebuildinggroup.com
~ Mary Schanuel, Synergy Group
The Class of '59, photographed at the Golden Circle Luncheon in October 2009
Shortly after that reunion, the class established an endowed scholarship—the first and only class-sponsored endowed fund at Webster. Since the inaugural award in 2001, Class of '59 scholarships have supported eight women in the College of Arts & Sciences. Then came the September 2008 financial crash, which eroded earnings from investment accounts around the world – including the class scholarship fund. University policy preserves endowed funds by spending a percentage of earnings only. When the fund balance drops, there may be insufficient funds available for an award. In spring 2009, the Fund Balance Report contained stark news: There would be no Class of '59 scholarship this year.
Class leaders Martha Armes and Clare Heyne rallied their classmates: "This year more than ever," they wrote, "because of the hardships brought about by the current economic crisis, the Class of '59 Scholarship must be awarded to a qualified recipient because the alternative of no recipient for one or two years is unacceptable." If the class raised $1,500 by mid-August, a scholarship could be awarded to the ninth Class of '59 scholar.
On a golden day in early October, the class celebrated its 50th reunion. Nineteen class members attended Webster's Golden Circle luncheon, where they laughed at old photographs and reminisced about campus days. Then president Beth Stroble presented each member with a gold circle pin as the class was inducted into Webster's Golden Circle.
And oh, yes, there is a ninth Class of '59 scholar. Was there ever any doubt?