Feedback from students and the community is vital to Webster’s ability to grow and respond to changing demographics and community needs. As the primary constituent group, Webster University values the input of students. The most direct input to academic programs is through course evaluations; this is covered in other criteria. Students provide regular feedback in a number of key service areas.
The Student Affairs office encompasses a broad range of Student Services:
- Dean of Students Office
- Career Services and Student Employment
- Counseling and Life Development
- Dining Services
- Health Services
- Multicultural Center and International Student Affairs Office
- Housing and Residential Life
The evaluation of the services provided by the above units are summarized in the Student Affairs Annual Report. Each unit report contains a customer evaluation, detailing feedback on programs and services offered throughout the year. The Student Affairs Office is very sensitive to the needs of students and takes their feedback seriously to consider changes in the programs and services offered.
[EXHIBIT: HLC5d.1 Student Affairs Annual Reports]
In July 2004, the School Business & Technology Dean Benjamin Akande conducted focus group with students from Shenzhen who had studied in the U.S. during the summer 2004. The purpose of the focus group was to attain their feedback about both the summer experience and their experience with the MBA in China. They offered very candid feedback about both, providing insights into their preferences and needs.
We were able to respond to some of their recommendations. Here are a few examples: We ramped up our recruitment of faculty to teach in China. We adjusted the curriculum, adding case studies with Asian issues. We increased corporate visits both in China and in the U.S. (during the summer).
[EXHIBIT: HLC5d.2 SBT Focus Groups in China]
The “Target Market Survey” is designed to attain information about the satisfaction of current graduate students on a variety of factors. It was piloted in Fall 2006 in St. Louis. Plans are underway for comprehensive distribution, worldwide, to graduate students at the end of their program in the Capstone classes. More information is available from the Office of University Assessment.
[EXHIBIT: HLC5d.3 SBT Target Market Survey]
In July 2003 the School of Business and Technology (SBT) surveyed graduates within the most recent five years (1999 – 2003) to solicit feedback regarding their Webster education in the context of their current career experience. As a follow-up to this survey, the SBT dean decided to conduct focus groups to explore the issues identified in the survey, and to better understand alumni attitudes regarding the perceived value of their Webster degree.
[EXHIBIT: HLC5d.4 SBT Graduate Survey]
Three alumni focus groups were held on the European campuses of Geneva, Switzerland; Leiden, Holland; and Vienna, Austria, during the week of March 22- 26, 2004. The focus group discussion centered around the alumni’s perceived value of their Webster degree, and examples were solicited regarding positive and negative aspects of their education, including specific faculty members, knowledge or course content taught, the extent to which learning took place, and specific career-critical skills that were transferred as a result of the degree program.
[EXHIBIT: HLC5d.5 SBT Alumni Focus Groups in Europe]
It is expected that the feedback gained from the focus groups will be used to guide future curriculum design decisions, specific suggestions regarding course content or instruction, degree planning assistance provided to students, and other campus-specific support services.
All of the participants felt that Webster had delivered value for their money, and offered a campus environment that embraced diversity and open dialogue among students and faculty. The alumni cited lack of consistency in curriculum and faculty as problematic. They thought more stringent admissions criteria should be used. The alumni also mentioned the Computer Resources Management degree as being the program most in need of serious review.
This feedback was useful, and served as a positive impetus of change. The Computer Resources Management degree was replaced with the new Information Technology Management program. The alumni feedback reinforced the need for, and commitment to, the faculty’s work on consistency and academic quality. This work has resulted in better and more consistent academic programs. The faculty commitment continues, through both the Consistency Project and Academic Assessment. Also, SBT added a minimum GPA requirement to the admissions criteria in response to these alumni concerns.
In 2003 the School of Education established an Advisory Board that includes a variety of community leaders from public schools, community service agencies, diversity specialists, and informal learning institutions. This board meets at least three times a year to examine School of Education issues and advise the unit in regard to programming, assessment, community needs, fundraising, and community partnerships. In the past two years the advisory board has given special attention to issues of diversity, technology, informal learning, accreditation standards and assessment issues.
Recommendations from the board are shared with the School of Education Leadership Team and action plans developed. Examples of actions taken as a result of advisory board recommendations and discussions include a collaborative initiative to pool resources with local school districts to provide joint professional development for faculty regarding issues of culturally responsive teaching, and the development and submission of a grant proposal to the National Science Foundation to partner with the Science Center and the St. Louis Public Schools. The goal is to implement a sustainable year-round out-of-school informal learning program that complements the formal curriculum in science, math, and technology.
[EXHIBIT: HLC4c.1 External Advisory Boards]
Webster University has a long tradition of public service, social responsibility and a commitment to helping communities around the world. Annually, Webster University sponsors a campus-wide community service day called Webster Works Worldwide. Students, faculty, staff and alumni from Webster campuses around the world work in teams to help those in need. Projects include light construction work, landscaping, tutoring, painting, reading or playing with children, entertaining the elderly, park restoration, helping in hospitals, community centers and animal shelter.
Teams and individual Webster students, faculty, staff and alumni identified a need in their neighborhoods. Through partnerships with local non-profit agencies, hospitals, parks, daycare centers and schools, volunteers take one day off from work and school to volunteer at various projects and help those in need.
What the volunteers and agencies learn from the experience left a lasting impression. Whether improving a playground, doing office work for a non-profit agency, raking leaves, painting a wall, delivering meals to the elderly or entertaining an appreciative audience, volunteers and service recipients alike share an increased understanding of our interdependency - how even one day can make a difference to someone in need.
Through their participation, many volunteers share feelings of renewed commitment to their communities and to community service. Often they choose to continue their service throughout the year or to seek new outreach possibilities.
Today, Webster’s annual community service day has grown into a worldwide University tradition. Held every October, volunteers and agencies alike look forward to partnering on projects that really matter to the community. Every year, there is an increase in the number of volunteers and the number of organizations we help. Since the start of Webster Works Worldwide 12 years ago, nearly 14,000 volunteers have given more than 60,000 hours of service.
Because of every individual’s effort, Webster Works Worldwide continues to grow in impact and meaning, strengthening bonds with the community and within the university organization.
Webster University values community service and makes it an integral part of the higher education experience for our campus communities. Through university-sponsored programs such as Webster Works Worldwide, we stress the importance of civic engagement in the communities where our students, faculty, staff and alumni live, learn and work. By sponsoring an annual community service day, the University instills and encourages the spirit of civic duty and community pride in our students, alumni and employees.
What is particularly special about our community service day is that students, faculty, staff and alumni can all work together to build a better community. Bonds are formed as volunteers talk about their lives—Webster University being one of the great things they all have in common. Students work side-by-side with alumni who talk about the old days at Webster or how much Webster has helped them prosper and advance in their careers. It is evident that learning takes place not only in the classroom, but also out in our communities while serving others in need.
Webster Works Worldwide is supported by a $17,000 budget. The Webster Works Worldwide Planning Committee comprises one chairperson, three faculty members, seven staff members and three students.
[EXHIBIT: HLC0.30 Webster Works Worldwide]
On-going Community Service and Hurricane Relief Projects
In addition to the annual community service day, students, faculty and staff are encouraged to make volunteering a lifelong commitment. A community Service Board is displayed in the University Center and offers informational brochures and flyers about on-going community service opportunities in the St. Louis area. There are numerous examples of how the generosity and culture of service pervades the Webster University community. One of the more compelling recent stories is the efforts by the community to reach out to those in need after Hurricane Katrina. Webster University students and faculty joined the relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina and organized various trips to the Gulf Coast to help those affected by the storm. Just three days after Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, a group of five, consisting of faculty, students and alumni, held a fundraiser on campus and then drove to Jackson, Mississippi, where they distributed bottled water and medical supplies, donated by the university.
The group brought seven evacuees back to St. Louis and helped them to get a fresh start in St. Louis by helping them to find housing and employment. Webster University faculty, staff and students donated clothing, food and other items to the evacuees, free counseling services were offered by Webster University’s Director of Counseling Services, and various Webster employees helped them to find jobs in order to earn money.
There have been a number of other subsequent trips, showing a long-term commitment of the Webster community to the cause. It was a community effort to help those in need and it brought the Webster community together for a common cause.
In addition to the community efforts, the administration implemented a “Hurricane Relief Semester” to undergraduate students affected by the devastation caused by hurricane Katrina. The University understood that resuming studies following the disaster was going to be very challenging. A special program was developed to allow students and families to have some additional time to address their personal needs.
To accommodate students, Webster created an accelerated course schedule that provided undergraduate students the opportunity to begin a traditional academic year on October 24, 2005. The University waived all admission fees and facilitated the University admission procedures. The University assisted in the transfer of international students with F1 and J1 visas. Housing options were available at the home campus in St. Louis. Webster University also extended an invitation to displaced faculty to join Webster last fall as a scholar-in-residence.
Because of Webster University’s dedication and support of community service, the University was awarded the 2006 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, honoring campuses who care. The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll responds to President Bush’s call to service by building on and supporting the civic engagement mission of our nation’s colleges and universities. The Honor Roll program’s special emphasis in 2006 was on recognizing service activities performed in response to the Gulf Coast hurricanes of 2005. The program also identifies and promotes community service model programs and practices in higher education.
[EXHIBIT: HLC4c.5 Community Service]
With its primary focus as the education of students, the most significant and valuable evidence of Webster’s value to the business community is its connection with the business community through student internships and graduate employment. The Career Services Office cultivates relationships with area employers who seek out our students for internships and our graduates through their participation in Career Fairs, Information Sessions and the eRecruiting database. The November 2006 Career Fair (see http://www.webster.edu/homecampus/homes/careerfair2005_stu.html) had more than 60 participating area companies who sought our upcoming and new graduates for opportunities within their organizations; The 2006 Career Services Student Success Survey indicated a 96% Comprehensive Success Rate and an 89% Professional Success Rate; these rates are based on survey data for the total graduates earning degrees at all domestic and international campuses from August 2005 through May 2006. This is a strong indication that the workforce development that we provide through high quality education is valued by the global workforce.
[EXHIBIT: HLC4c.2 Success Report]
Webster is very involved in the local community.
The St. Louis Regional Chamber & Growth Association (RCGA) is the regional economic development initiative of the St. Louis Regional Chamber & Growth Association. The Association is a public-private partnership representing nearly 150 corporate and civic investors serving a 16-county, two-state region. Their objective is to grow St. Louis’ regional economy through business attraction, expansion of the area’s existing business base, and the start-up of new entrepreneurial ventures. Webster’s president, Dr. Richard Meyers is a member of the Board of Directors of this organization.
Webster’s active involvement with the St. Louis community was recognized in 2006 by the RCGA through the Greater St. Louis Top 50 Award. The award recognizes companies for their overall business success and their ability to positively affect the future of the business community in the region. Criteria included enhancement of the community, revenue growth and expansion and development of facilities. The Top 50 awards, which are presented annually by RCGA, were co-sponsored by The Boeing Company, Edward Jones, Sigma-Aldrich Corp., Southwest Bank, KETC-TV Channel 9, KMOX-FM radio and “St. Louis Commerce Magazine.” This recognition further cements Webster’s position as a top community leader in St. Louis.
FOCUS St. Louis has also recently recognized Webster’s leadership in the region. The nonprofit organization is dedicated to creating a thriving, cooperative region by engaging citizens to participate in active leadership roles and to influence positive community change. In May 2007, Webster was recognized in the Creating Quality Educational Opportunities category by FOCUS St. Louis, with the following accomplishments noted:
- Demonstration of civic leadership in the redevelopment of the downtown St. Louis Old Post Office;
- Significant contributions to workforce development in support of the Biobelt initiative;
- Being a major provider of graduate education for the region’s military personnel and civilian workforce;
- Leadership in promoting international education in the region.
The city of Vienna and the Austrian Economic Chamber recently contracted a research study from Webster-Vienna on the attractiveness of Vienna as a business location to ex-pats and international employees. The request illustrates the value of Webster’s Vienna campus as a business expert and a knowledge base for ex-pat relations in the local community.
[EXHIBIT: HLC5d.6 Community Service and Leadership Awards]
As a recognized cultural center in the St. Louis region, events sponsored by the university are well regarded and attended by the community. Events are advertised in local media, published in Webster newsletters, posted as flyers and publicized on an online calendar. Webster realizes the significance of connecting with local residents and business people through offering events that are often free and open to the public.
A sampling of the kinds of events offered on campus include:
Success to Significance Speaker Series—The School of Business & Technology offers the Success to Significance Speaker Series, which was initiated by Dean Benjamin Akande in 2003. The respected series has brought some of the nations leading captains of industry, civic leaders and opinion makers to share insights and experience with students, faculty, staff, alumni and the public at large. The events are recorded and also made available for download online to all of Webster’s extended campuses.
Past speakers include Lee Scott, CEO of Wal-Mart; August Busch IV, CEO of Anheuser Busch; Andy Taylor, Chairman of Enterprise Rent-A-Car; and former UN Ambassador Jack Danforth.
[EXHIBIT: HLC5b.13 Success to Significance Series]
Holden Public Policy Forum—Another speaker series offered by Webster University is the Holden Public Policy Forum. Created by former Missouri Governor and Webster University faculty member Bob Holden, the Forum is a bi-partisan speaker series that brings Governors, Senators, presidential candidates, and private sector public policy leaders to St. Louis and the Webster University Old Post Office campus to engage in open debate about public policy. These events are offered to the Webster community as well as the general public to encourage more people to take an active role in hearing what today’s political leaders have to say. A webcast of the lecture is also available so that people around the world can be engaged in the Q&A portion of the event.
[EXHIBIT: HLC2d.2 Holden Public Policy Forum]
The Webster Film Series is a year-round program that prides itself as the most comprehensive alternative film series in the St. Louis area. The Webster University Film Series began in 1979 as an offshoot of a student-run organization known as The Webster Film Society. Designed primarily for the presentation of non-commercial film made by artists working outside the mainstream, the series has developed a strong following throughout the St. Louis community. Now in its 27th year of operation, the series offers a premiere film almost every weekend and frequently screens classic cinema on weeknights as well. With retrospectives, special programs and regular weekly screenings in our year round schedule, the series has grown into one of the Midwest’s premiere venues for new and classic, American and international cinema.
The series has also become a host venue in recent years to the St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF). Over the past quarter century the series has presented thousands of films and welcomed hundreds of artists, musicians and professionals working in contemporary cinema, many of whom are at the vanguard of the art form. These events are open to the public; some showings are free, others require a fee. The Film Series’ long history with the university, along with the strong attendance numbers, are a testament to its quality and regard within the community.
[EXHIBIT: HLC4c.8 Film Series]
The May Gallery was established in 1988, with the opening of the Sverdrup Building on the Webster Groves campus of the university. Located in the School of Communications, it is one of the very few spaces in St. Louis dedicated to showing a wide range of photographic work. The Small Wall Gallery was inaugurated in Fall 2000. It complements the May Gallery by hosting smaller photographic exhibitions, especially of student work, work-in-progress, and work that otherwise might not be seen in a gallery setting. Hosting approximately eight shows per year, the gallery enjoys a strong following in the community, with a mailing list of more than 1,200.
[EXHIBIT: HLC5d.7 May Gallery]
Webster University Book Club-- The Webster University Book Club meets every other month to discuss the club’s latest selection. The club is open to any member of the community. Participation is a mix between students, faculty, staff, and local community members.
[EXHIBIT: HLC4c.6 Book Club]
Around the Table-- Community volunteers invite international students to dinner at their home, allowing the student to experience the “American” way of life and volunteers to gain insight into some of the world’s cultures.
[EXHIBIT: HLC5d.8. Around the Table]
The facilities of the university are attractive and considered a local asset. This is evidenced by the use of Webster University facilities by local community members.
The most open and used facility is the Emerson Library. The library is open to the public. Webster held an open house for the public in 2003, and the first issue of the community newsletter, Webster to Webster, highlighted the services and resources for the public. Area teachers have free borrowing privileges at Emerson Library, and both Laura Rein, Dean of Library Services, and Ellen Eliceiri, Head of Reference and Collection Development, serve on the Webster Groves High School Library and Media Technology Committee. Community Music School Prep students are eligible for direct borrowing privileges and other CMS students have borrowing access through their CMS instructors. All CMS students have access to Emerson Library.
The library develops links between life-long learning, community success and information by working with high school programs such as the SBT CORE program for students; and working with other organizations to support University-Community partnerships and other service learning activities, including: MOBIUS, St. Louis Academic Reference Librarians, St. Louis Theological Libraries through Eden Seminary, Webster Groves Public Library, and St. Louis Psychiatric Rehab Center. We also sold bracelets for the victims of the tsunami and Katrina, and participated in the ref scarf project for the Orphan Foundation of America.
The University Center pool hosts swimming lessons for local children, taught by university students who participate in the swim program. The sessions, offered year round, always fill. Individuals and organizations in the local community have the opportunity to rent the University Center meeting rooms and facilities for events; recent uses include local Girl Scout events and a piano recital.
Although facilities vary by location, all Webster domestic and international locations strive to invite the local community to use the campus facilities. A few examples include the use of Webster-Vienna as an official TOEFL-testing center and partner of ETS. Webster is one of the few such centers in Austria; testing occurs on average two times per month throughout the year. Additional community groups, such as the American Women’s Association, the Women’s Career Network, and the Austrian Holocaust Awareness Service for young people also use the Vienna campus to host meetings and events. For the past two years, the Kansas City campus has been host to the local Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) semi-annual review seminars. The seminars help security professional prepare for the international certification exam. The professionals are able to see the campus and are given an overview of Webster’s degree programs. The Geneva campus offers its meeting spaces in the Living and Learning Center to local organizations who hold lectures and meetings.
[EXHIBIT: HLC5d.9 Facilities Use, HLC0.33 Library Report, HLC2b Student Affairs Self Study]
With its wide array of professional programs and convenient campus locations, Webster is well poised to be of service to local licensed professionals.
Ocala’s Counseling Program Coordinator has received authorization to oversee and provide CEU seminars at the campus.
[EXHIBIT: HLC5d.10 Ocala Continuing Education]
The School of Education has also developed partnership agreements with Adams Elementary School in the St. Louis Public School District, the University City School District Middle School, and the Maplewood-Richmond Heights School District high school to offer our initial foundations course and some methods courses with embedded practicum experiences to be held in the context of their schools. Recently, the School of Education has entered a partnership with Maplewood-Richmond Heights School District with funding from a state organization called ARCHS to work with the early childhood center in regard to professional development of teachers.
This partnership will involve Webster faculty as ongoing consultants and mentors in the school, practicum and student teacher involvement, and frequent workshops and school based graduate coursework for teachers from the school.
[EXHIBIT: HLC3a NCATE]
The Gerontology program in the College of Arts & Sciences has long-term commitment to providing professional development of area professionals across a variety of fields. The 20th Annual Gerontology Workshop will be held in St. Louis this spring. In past years, topics have varied; this year’s workshop, which will focus on how gerontologists can be a vital part of an integrated healthcare team, was arrived at through a poll of recent graduates of the program. These workshops are attended by professionals in the healthcare and long-term care communities, as well as other local usiness members. The Gerontology program in Albuquerque recently partnered with the New Mexico Cabinet Secretary of Aging and Long-term Services to provide professional development seminars at their bi-annual conference for state workers in Albuquerque. Fifteen Gerontology graduate students presented eight sessions that were attended by a minimum of 40 attendees each; the feedback from the state was overwhelmingly positive.
[EXHIBIT: HLC5d.11 Gerontology Workshops]