A spirit of innovation has always characterized Webster University. Founded in 1915, Webster University is one of several schools formed by the Sisters of Loretto, who were geographic and intellectual pioneers. Loretto College was one of the first Catholic Colleges for women west of the Mississippi River; in 1924 the institution changed its name to Webster College.
The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (now the Higher Learning Commission) accredited Webster College on March 19, 1925. In 1931, Webster initiated an international student program with nearly 200 faculty and students involved in study abroad between 1931-1950. In 1962, male students were admitted in Fine Arts programs.
Webster College became independent and coeducational in 1967 during a period of profound changes in American private education. Leaders from the St. Louis corporate and professional community were invited to join the Board of Trustees. This conversion to a private and secular institution was made with a commitment to retain the values of a liberal arts education even as the institution adapted to rapidly changing times. The College began to grow and soon expanded into new areas of educational delivery, including programs for working adults.
In 1972, the first extended-campus program was opened in Kansas City. Within a few years (1974-1977), Webster University became a significant educational provider for the United States military. The first international campus program was opened in 1978, in Geneva, Switzerland, followed in 1981 with a campus in Vienna, Austria. In 1983, the College became Webster University. The name “Webster University” better identified the scope and range of the University’s academic programs, the growth of its student populations, and its commitment to internationalism. The campus in Leiden, the Netherlands, was opened in 1983, and a campus in London opened in 1986.
Webster University currently enrolls approximately 20,000 (11,400 FTE) students throughout its multi-campus network. Webster University has recognized a unique opportunity to address unmet student needs with quality educational programs and simultaneously transform itself into a multicampus and international institution.
Now nearing its centennial, Webster University continues to grow. In 1993, the School of Business and Technology was established. That was quickly followed by the establishment of the College of Fine Arts (1994), the College of Arts and Sciences (1995), the School of Education (1995), and the School of Communications (1996). In 1992, substantial physical campus improvements were realized, including: the opening of a new University Center, acquisition of an additional 12 acres (and 19 properties) on the University’s main campus, and completion of two new classroom buildings at Webster’s campus in Geneva, Switzerland. In 1998, Webster Village Apartments, a new residential life complex, was opened. In 2001, a new parking structure and student support offices were opened (Garden Park Plaza). In 2002, an expansion of the Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts was completed, and in 2003 our new five-story Emerson Library opened with rave reviews from students throughout our network. A significant Title III Strengthening Institutions Grant (2001-06) supported library infrastructure and provided funding for faculty development.
Dr. Richard S. Meyers, the tenth president of Webster University, executed a vision of expansion, quality, and international perspective. He built a strong Board of Trustees, a senior administrative team, and helped secure the future of this dynamic institution.
Enhanced financial stability, expansion of the home campus infrastructure, growth of student enrollments, academic program expansion, the implementation of new planning models, growth of the full-time faculty, new capital projects, revitalization of facilities in extended campus locations, new partnerships formed, improved technology infrastructure, and new quality assurance initiatives, including specialized accreditations of our largest academic programs, are indicators of his leadership. In 1996, Webster University opened an MBA program in China.
Study Abroad programs have grown consistently, and in 2004 the “World Traveler” program was created to fund free round-trip airfare for qualified students to support their study abroad at a Webster international campus. The domestic extended campus network has continued to grow as new military education programs and graduate centers for working adults have opened. Online programs formally began in 2001 with authorization (2002) to offer an online MBA program. While extended military deployments with the war in Iraq have impacted the military education segment of the institution’s enrollment portfolio, the University’s operations and academic outcomes are at an all-time high.
Today, Webster University is a dynamic, independent, multicampus, international university providing quality educational programs to diverse constituents, including adult-learners, young traditional-aged students, corporate and military personnel, and international students.
The following table provides a concise summary of basic institutional data. See the “Institutional Snapshot” in the Self-Study appendix for a summary of the institution’s overall scope and nature of operations. Also, the University publishes an annual Sum and Substance report, which provides a comprehensive overview of institutional data and research.
Profile of Webster University