March 26, 2012
President Elizabeth (Beth) J. Stroble
Good afternoon everyone and welcome to the annual William T. Kemper Award for Excellence in Teaching Luncheon. Please go ahead and begin eating your salads.
We always know that when the William T. Kemper Award for Excellence in Teaching luncheon pops up on the calendar that spring in on its way. Also on the way is our time to celebrate Webster University’s faculty and the exceptional work they do as members of an institute committed to students and committed to learning.
This is also the day we express our gratitude to the William T. Kemper Foundation for your extraordinary generosity and support of quality teaching and learning. We are pleased to have with us today our friends from Commerce Bank and the William T. Kemper Foundation:
- David Kemper, Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer, Commerce Bancshares, Inc.
- Seth Leadbeater, Vice Chairman, Commerce Bancshares, Inc., Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Commerce Bank, St. Louis Region
- Jack Schreiber, President, Chief Operating Officer, Commerce Bank, St. Louis
- Dee Joyner, Senior Vice President, Director of Community Relations
- Jenny Hoelzer, Assistant Vice President, Community Relations, Grants Manager, William T. Kemper Foundation - Commerce Bank, Trustee
Thank you for being here and for your commitment to teaching excellence.
And I want to recognize Tom Cornwell, a member of the Board of Trustees who is with us today.
After lunch we will meet this class of Kemper Award honorees – Gary Glasgow, Danielle MacCartney, Mark Muehlbach, and Ronald Scott, who has joined us from our San Antonio region.
They all share a passion for teaching and experiencing the joy of watching their students learn. I look forward to hearing more about them.
I am pleased to introduce the new members of our staff who are with us today:
• Barbara O’Malley, Associate Vice President and Chief Communications Officer.
• Oren Yagil, Special Assistant to the President
These individuals are joining Webster at a time of great excitement and anticipation for its future. We look forward to the contributions they will make as we advance global academic and operational excellence.
Now, I want to look back at the year that has gone by since we met and share with you some Webster highlights…
This may not seem like a highlight, but in many ways it was. In February, we remembered a woman who was a Webster student, graduate, teacher, and the 7th president of the then, Webster College. Jack (Schreiber) she was a classmate of your mother’s in the 40’s.
Sister Jacqueline Grennan was a strong leader who galvanized those around her to make the tough decisions necessary for Webster College to continue to be competitive and relevant. She was not afraid to stand behind her conviction that the future of Webster College depended on the transfer of ownership to a lay Board of Trustees.
She once told a Webster Journal reporter, “I didn’t know enough to be afraid.”
That absence of fear allowed for many bold moves that placed Webster on the road to achieve its current status as 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.
Jacqueline was an articulate agent of change, a pioneer, and an explorer. She inspired her fellow classmates, her students, and, during her presidency, all the men and women of Webster. I feel fortunate to be on the trail she blazed.
Jacqueline’s bold moves garnered national attention for Webster. And the excellence of our programs continues to attract notice.
Webster University fared very well in the 2012 U. S. News & World Report rankings:
o For over a decade, we have been ranked as a Tier 1 institution. This year we are first in our class of regional comprehensive Masters universities in St. Louis.
o Our Study Abroad programs rank in the top 2 percent of the 1,600 colleges and universities surveyed.
o We are nationally ranked for nursing and nurse anesthetist programs.
• The Institute of International Education’s annual Open Doors report ranked Webster fifth among all U.S. master’s degree-granting institutions for study abroad of a semester-long duration and first in the same category among midwestern institutions.
• Forbes Magazine ranked us among America’s Best Colleges based on postgraduate success, student satisfaction, student debt, four-year graduation rate and competitive awards.
• For the fourth consecutive year, The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked us as a Great College to Work For.
• Military Advanced Education magazine ranked us a Top School for Military students and a Military Friendly School by G.I. Jobs magazine.
This kind of national recognition will enable us to continue to accomplish our vision and mission.
We are building more predictably strong entering classes in terms of numbers, but we are also growing in academic quality, with the this year’s freshman class showing the strongest combined GPA and ACT scores since 2006. Equally important is our increase in diversity and in our retention rates, where we compare very favorably with our local peers.
This freshman class is the first to take classes in our newest academic building.
Last year at this time we were just breaking ground on our East Academic Building. You may have noticed on your way in that it is finished. This building houses forty general-purpose classrooms and is the home of the George Herbert Walker School of Business and Technology.
We hope you are able to attend our grand opening celebration this Wednesday where the renowned architect of the building, Robert A. M. Stern will speak; we will have tours, music and food.
This is just one step in the many changes on the campus anticipated in the coming years.
We are currently working with Sasaki, the internationally recognized and celebrated planning and urban design firm with offices in Boston and San Francisco, to develop our St. Louis campus master plan that will guide us for the next 15 years and beyond.
The preferred plan includes a new interdisciplinary Science Building, additional student housing, new student recreation, dining and meetings centers, and much more.
Many of the highlights over the past year will be visible in many different ways.
As you may know, Webster University’s Commencement is held at the MUNY every year. As you can imagine, it is a beautiful setting for our ceremony.
The MUNY is also the place where high-quality theatrical productions are staged each summer. Last December we announced a new partnership that will blend the renowned MUNY theatre with Webster’s nationally acclaimed Conservatory of Theatre Arts.
We will share resources and opportunities to develop and train performers and production staff for careers in American musical theatre. This partnership will enhance both organizations, transform lives, and enrich our community. This is in addition to our long-standing rich tradition with the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis and Opera Theatre St. Louis.
Webster is always seeking ways to transform lives and enrich the communities we serve. And we were happy to announce a new program for those who serve our country. Earlier this year we announced our “Proud to Serve Scholarship for Military Dependents” on this campus.
We are proud of our longstanding affiliation with the military and we want to welcome home the new wave of veterans by extending our scholarship offerings to their dependents. This scholarship allows us to provide Webster’s highest level of financial assistance to qualified military dependents to support their continued success.
A few weeks ago we announced the Global Leaders in Residence program, extending our long-standing commitment to partnerships around the world. We will host distinguished individuals who are considered thought leaders in their fields from across a wide spectrum of disciplines.
The leaders will interact with students and share their unique perspectives in forums that are free and open to the public.
On this schedule as of today are Yolanda Kakabadse, the President of the World Wildlife Fund International; Steve James, acclaimed filmmaker; and Jonathan Kozol, distinguished author and educator.
We are honored to host such distinguished thinkers and leaders. The program begins with Ms. Kakabadse on April 9th.
Recently we made another bold move to reinforce our commitment to global diversity and academic excellence. It was an exciting chess move actually. Chess Grandmaster Susan Polgar, World and Olympiad Champion and her Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence, or SPICE, will relocate to Webster from Texas Tech University. In addition, all members of the reigning national collegiate champion Texas Tech “A” chess team will transfer to Webster this fall.
Chess is increasingly valued for its instructional impact. It recognized as a tool to cultivate interest and success in STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math disciplines. Susan Polgar and her SPICE program will be leaders in promoting chess as a way to enrich the education of children, to recruit more women chess players and much more.
This is a very short list of the highlights from the last year at Webster University. Today we are celebrating quality in teaching and I feel these examples give you a glimpse into how we are providing quality-learning experiences for our students in, and out, of the classroom.
And finally, last year we held the first annual Teaching Festival; an occasion to celebrate and share effective and innovative teaching. The second festival was held a few weeks ago. Jack Schreiber and Jenny Hoelzer attended this year. Thank you for attending!
This year, the William T. Kemper Award for Excellence in Teaching Award Winners Panel featured five Kemper recipients who discussed their teaching philosophies, experiences related to their craft of teaching, and the impact of the Kemper Award. This event is quickly becoming a premier event.
This festival is another example of Webster’s commitment to quality teaching in the classroom, which brings us to our celebration today. The William T. Kemper Award for Excellence in Teaching Award is a treasured award at Webster and contributes in a significant way to our mission to ensure quality-learning experiences that transform lives for individual excellence and global citizenship. We are grateful for your generous support of that mission.
Now, here on behalf of our partners, the William T. Kemper Foundation and Commerce Bank Trustees is Jack Schreiber who will say a few works and lead us into lunch.
(Jack Schreiber Speaks)
Thank you, Ron. And thank you and congratulations to our Kemper Award recipients, Gary, Danielle, Mark and, and from our San Antonio region, Ron. You all have a gift and we are so proud and grateful that your love of teaching is manifested in our classrooms with our students who are so precious to us. You are changing so many lives in so many ways.
Congratulations on your achievement and may your passion burn for many, many years to come. Let’s give these extraordinary teachers another round of applause for their dedication to quality in the classroom.
Now it is my pleasure to welcome David Kemper for a few words about the William T. Kemper Award for Excellence in Teaching Award.
(David Kemper Speaks)
Thank you, David.
Webster University attracts determined, inquisitive, interesting learners who want to thrive in and contribute to our well-connected, multi-national community. Our exceptional faculty encourages innovation, collaboration, and self-expression in their classrooms.
Our academic programs are purposefully structured for tomorrow’s careers. And, our status as a Tier-1, private, non-profit U.S.-based university with a network of international residential campuses ensures our students will have the opportunity for cross-cultural living, learning and leadership experiences.
This doesn’t happen without a dedicated faculty.
I am inspired by our faculty and enjoyed hearing your philosophies on teaching. I never tire of observing the sheer joy you experience as teachers. As President of Webster, I am proud to be a part of this Webster community.
To our Kemper honorees, congratulations again, not only for your award but also for your exceptional work and all that you do for our students – in, and out of the classroom.
To our friends at the Kemper Foundation, thank you again for this beautiful rite of spring, where we take a moment and celebrate our remarkable faculty. We treasure your support of our faculty and our mission to transform lives for individual excellence and global citizenship. Thank you for being a part of the Webster community.
Thank you for being here today, have a good afternoon.