Webster University’s current mission statement was adopted September 1992, and reflects both the origins and history of the institution as well as its current state as a networked international university.
[EXHIBIT: Mission Statement]
|HLC0||Mission Statement - Webster University|
Although the Sisters of Loretto no longer oversee the day-to-day operation of Webster University, the general mission they established when they founded the university remains unchanged — to satisfy unmet educational needs.
Webster today operates as an independent, comprehensive, nondenominational university with campus locations around the world. It offers undergraduate and graduate programs in a wide array of disciplines, including the liberal arts, fine and performing arts, teacher education, business and management.
In striving to fulfill educational needs that may be under-served, Webster University:
- Creates a student-centered environment accessible to individuals of diverse ages, cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds.
- Sustains a personalized approach to education through small classes and close relationships among faculty and students.
- Develops educational programs that join theory and practice, and instill in students the spirit of systematic inquiry.
- Encourages creativity, scholarship and individual enterprise in its students and faculty.
- Promotes international perspectives in the curriculum and among students and faculty.
- Encourages in its students a critical perspective, a respect for diversity and an understanding of their own and others’ values.
- Fosters in its students a lifelong desire to learn and a commitment to contribute actively to their communities and the world.
- Educates diverse populations locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.
- Strengthens the communities it serves through support of civic, cultural, corporate and educational organizations.
A century ago, the Sisters of Loretto founded Webster College to address the unmet educational needs of Catholic women in St. Louis, especially those from middle and working class families. Webster University today continues to strive to “satisfy unmet educational needs.”
Particularly illustrative of the theme of continuity are the following tenets:
“Creates a student-centered environment”
“Sustains a personalized approach to education”
“Develops educational programs that join theory and practice”
These and other statements of principle in the Webster University mission statement were guiding principles for Webster College a half century ago. Today these ideas continue to describe the fundamental purpose of Webster University in the 21st Century.
With the international and technological explosion of the 21st century the fundamental purpose of Webster University remains the same. The manifestation of its mission has broadened to include new themes:
“Promotes international perspectives”
“Educates diverse populations”
“Strengthens the communities it serves”
The Self-Study Task Force quickly reached two conclusions concerning the mission statement. First, the current mission documents do realistically reflect Webster University today. Second, the mission statement itself is too long. In June, 2007, the University embarked on a new strategic planning process. As part of the process, a new, draft mission statement that is more concise and focused has been written, along with a vision statement and list of three core values. (See further discussion in Criterion 2.)
The second major mission document is the current Webster University Strategic Plan adopted by the Board of Trustees on December 5, 2002. This is a five year plan (2003-2008).
[EXHIBIT: HLC1d Strategy]
|HLC0.31-1||Strategic Plan 2003-2008|
|HLC0.31-2||Strategic Plan: Strategic Imperative 2001|
|HLC0.31-3||Strategic Plan: Academic Goals Summary 2002-2003|
|HLC0.31-4||Strategic Plan: Academic Goals 1999-2000|
The process of strategic planning begun in June is now well underway. (See the Strategic Plan Web site and the discussion of the planning process in the Criterion 2 chapter of this Self Study Report.)
In the 2003-08 strategic plan, the summary vision statement says:
In 2008 Webster University will provide distinctive quality learning experiences to students around the world, empowering them to reach their full potential as productive citizens in the global community. Through its far-reaching network of campuses, Webster University will be recognized as a premier international university.
To achieve this vision the statement identified two central strategies: enhancing institutional quality and strengthening operational excellence. The strategic plan document identifies a variety of tactics to be pursued to achieve the vision.
These include: promoting greater integration across the Webster network, building a global citizenry, seeking new opportunities to meet unmet needs. Operational excellence would be strengthened by leveraging emerging technologies, facilitating fiscal health, streamlining core processes, cultivating partnerships, and allocating necessary resources.
These key mission documents (mission statement, vision statement, and strategic plan) have been widely available in the Webster community, and have been the key perspectives driving the institution’s decision-making over the past five years.
In sections I (A and B) of the vision statement, high priority was given to strengthening academic quality across the Webster network, and to the internationalization of the curriculum.
Examples of vision statement points of emphasis on academic quality include:
“The University must endeavor over the next five years to promote increased consistency across our growing worldwide network in the form of desired learning objectives, student outcomes, curricular content and quality of academic degrees.”
“The University will: expand the curriculum to promote the values of global citizenship; facilitate movement of students and faculty throughout the global network; implement co-curricular programs that emphasize cross-cultural learning experiences; use technology to link students and faculty”
Thus, the mission documents clearly articulate to the various University constituencies a common sense of purpose and direction. These documents were the product of extended discussion among the various constituencies in the University community and represent a strategic direction consensus.