The last comprehensive visit by the Commission to Webster University took place March 22-27, 1998. The result of that visit was a positive team recommendation for continued accreditation, with the next comprehensive evaluation scheduled for 2007- 08. No progress, monitoring or contingency reports were recommended. A change request to approve a new international campus in Thailand (Bangkok and Cha-am, Thailand) was approved, with the understanding that a visit to this new international site would occur after its opening (1999-2000).
The 1998 team noted many areas of strength, including: a strong “student-centered” commitment; dedicated faculty who integrate theory and practice; high level of trust within the organization; a visionary campus master plan; creative partnerships; strong administrative team; exemplary self-study process; committed and dedicated Board of Trustees; model library information technology system, strong commitment to internationalization; extended campuses committed to “One University.”
The 1998 team observed a number of challenges for the University. Ten challenges were listed in the Team Report (p. 54). As a result of those recommendations and observations, and from other institutional initiatives, several important changes have been made and implemented. The following is a discrete list of the 1998 Team’s identified concerns (“challenges”) and the actions the University has taken to remedy or improve the findings.
[EXHIBIT: HLC0.7 1998 Team Report]
|HLC0.7||HLC 1998 Team Report|
Challenges 1, 6
“No formal cyclical academic program review process”
[Team Report , pp . 46, 54]
“An assessment plan which has not been fully implemented”
[Team Report , pp . 49-50, 54]
Since the 1998 Visit, Webster has created an Academic Assessment Center, with a director, coordinator, and administrative assistant (3FTE). Working with the Schools and Colleges, all academic programs have implemented full assessment processes for purposes of improving student learning outcomes. Significant progress has been made with data collection and analysis. This formalized and systematic work, documenting continuous improvement, represents substantial change and investment by the University. This focus on outcomes assessment and improvement has enabled the University to pursue specialized accreditation in our largest academic programs (business management, and education).
Criterion 3 of this Self-Study Report will focus on this and related core components.
[EXHIBIT: HLC3a NCATE, HLC3a ACBSP, Appendix 2 History of Assessment at Webster]
|HLC3a-8-2||NCATE Diversity Response|
|HLC3a-8-4||NCATE Accreditation Letter|
“Ensuring more consistent quality across programs and extended campuses”
[Team Report , pp . 49-50, 54]
Since the majority of the University’s extended campus offerings are applied graduate programs (master’s degree) from the School of Business and Technology, the University, under the leadership of the School’s academic dean, has designed and implemented a comprehensive quality assurance program called “The Consistency Project.”
This initiative provides common learning goals for all programs, details course guides that target common objectives for all courses, controls faculty credentials, establishes approved textbook lists, standardizes syllabi and course components, and, most importantly, systematically collects learning outcome data for continuous improvement. Extensive training and faculty development in implementing the program has occurred. These quality assurance measures, and other systems, have prepared the School of Business and Technology to seek specialized accreditation with the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). This candidacy is pending.
The ACBSP Team Report (Visit October 14-20, 2007) cited these quality assurance processes as: “The Consistency Project is a well-deployed, best-in-class, systematic approach to ensuring that programs are delivered worldwide with consistency and quality.”
[EXHIBIT: HLC3a ACBSP, HLC3b.13 The Consistency Project]
|HLC3b.13||SBT Consistency Project|
“Poor quality of current science laboratory space”
[Team Report , pp . 13, 54]
The University has made some modest adjustments in science labs and in instructional classrooms. These include facilities used in biological sciences and in nursing programs. Wireless technology has been provided to institutional spaces, and continuous acquisition of modern science equipment has insured that students learn using contemporary equipment, if in long-used quarters. Under the supervision of relatively new faculty, undergraduate biology students and graduate nurse anesthesia students are conducting impressive research. A new science lab facility has been planned, designed, and capitol fund raising is underway. This new facility will double the number and size of current lab facilities.
[EXHIBIT: HLC0.8 Campus Master Plan, HLC0.9 Science Facility Design Plans]
|HLC0.8||Campus Master Plan|
“Library holdings are limited”
[Team Report , pp . 19, 24, 54]
While the 1998 Team praised and acknowledged a “model library information technology system,” students expressed disappointment with the 1998 facility (a joint library operated with Eden Seminary). A new library complex (the Emerson Library) was opened in 2003. This five-story, 71,500 square foot, $21 million dollar facility has quickly become a vital physical and technological link between the St. Louis home campus and our entire extended campus network, which it supports. Acquisitions, including substantial databases supporting specific academic programs, have been made and continue as Webster University places a priority on academic support. The Self-Study finds the Emerson Library, its holdings and its services to be a center of excellence. Emerson Library is discussed extensively under Criterion 3d.
[EXHIBIT: HLC3d Library Report]
“Inconsistent student support services staffing”
[Team Report , pp . 23, 24, 54]
The 1998 Team identified strengths in the key offices of Student and Enrollment Management divisions. They commended the “student-centered” commitments they found throughout the student affairs offices, and noted that the enrollment growth at Webster could be causing some “stress in some units of Student Support Services.” The institution has strategically opened new residential life facilities and grown student life programs in order to improve student services and extracurricular programs. The residential life facilities include: the Webster Village Apartments (1998), and two new residence halls (2006) called “East Hall” and “West Hall.”
The new Garden Park Plaza (2001) complex brought essential student services into one convenient location (Academic Advising, Evening and Graduate Student Admissions, Career Center, and a new University Bookstore). A new campus-dining complex (Marletto’s Marketplace) opened in 2004 to serve student and staff dining needs, along with enhanced dining offerings in the new Crossroads at the University Center.
Accompanying these new contemporary facilities, the University has created innovative programs and activities to support student life and services.
[EXHIBIT: HLC0.10 Housing Web Site, HLC4a.10 Student Life Programs, HLC5d.1 Student Affairs Annual Report]
|HLC0.10||Housing Web site|
|HLC4a.10-1||Student Life Programs|
|HLC4a.10-2||Student Life Programs: Student Government Association (SGA)|
|HLC5d.1-||Student Affairs Annual Report: 2002|
|HLC5d.1-||Student Affairs Annual Report: 2004|
|HLC5d.1-||Student Affairs Annual Report: 2005|
|HLC5d.1-||Student Affairs Annual Report: 2006|
“Insufficient institutional data collection and analysis”
[Team Project , pp 13-14, 54]
The University has made considerable progress in its capacity to collect and analyze institutional data. Expertise has continued to be developed in Enrollment Management, in Finance, in Academic Affairs, and in Academic Assessment to collect and analyze institutional data related to their operations. Benchmark indicators, with comparative data on similar institutions, are increasingly available.
The institution has continued to use both a centralized (Office of Institutional Research, 1 FTE) and a decentralized (all administrative areas having expertise in report writing and analysis) approach in collecting, reporting, and analyzing data. The Self-Study process again revealed continued challenges in this area, and our new Strategic Plan includes specific objectives aimed at further coordination of this important activity.
“Uncertain fiscal and political resources to accomplish the campus master plan”
[Team Report , pp . 13, 54]
The University has made remarkable progress on its master plan implementation. While changes have occurred from the early plan, the University has completed important master plan projects such as the following:
|1999||City of Webster Groves approved the Campus Master Plan|
|2001||Garden Park Plaza
[700 space parking facility, plus core student services relocated to this complex]
|2002||Renovations and expansion to the Loretto-Hilton Center for Performing Arts|
|2003||Emerson Library completed|
|2006||New residence halls completed|
|2007||Community Music School and Performance Hall opened|
Currently underway are plans for a new academic classroom building which will also house the School of Business and Technology, a new science lab facility, renovation of the Fine Arts studio building, and renovation of the Sverdrup complex to accommodate growth in the School of Communications. The strong fiscal position of the University gives us confidence that resources will be available to continue implementing our master plan.
“Improving, but limited, ethnic diversity in the staff and faculty”
[Team Report , pp . 9, 54]
The University has continued to make progress in recruiting and retaining more diverse staff and faculty, including both full-time and part-time employee categories.
The University is not satisfied with its progress and has included new initiatives aimed at strengthening diversity in the new Strategic Plan.
[EXHIBIT: HLC0.11 Human Resources, Appendix 1 Institutional Snapshot, HLC0.23 Draft Strategic Plan]
|HLC0.23||Webster's Strategic Plan 2020|
|HLC0.23-1||Workforce St. Louis Report|
|Appendix 1||Institutional Snapshot|
“Need for enhanced institutional advancement efforts, especially building the University’s endowment.”
[Team Report , pp . 11, 54]
While progress has been made with the expansion of the endowment (1997=$24.7 million; 2007 =$68.5 million), the current Development Campaign includes a significant goal for the new campaign. Tuition dependency has been reduced from 97% in 1997 to 83% in 2007. Individual gifts are at record levels, with the recent gift from Ambassador George H. Walker III ($10 million) setting a new University standard. A major campaign is underway with strong trustee support, and with new leadership in the development office, we have confidence that the future development of the University is bright. This current campaign (Webster Works) has a goal of $55 million. By January 2007, the Development office reported $35.3 million achieved. Of this total campaign, $35 million is devoted to capital construction projects.
[EXHIBIT: HLC0.12 Campaign Information]
|HLC0.12||Campaign Information - Main Campus Exhibit Room (See also Faith Maddy, VP of Development & Alumni Programs)|