Webster has kept a keen eye on societal trends to ensure it is responsive to the educational needs it has the capacity to fulfill. This section will outline Webster’s responsiveness to the changing needs of society by examining Webster’s relevant, innovative curriculum, use of information technology to improve business processes and delivery of education, global outreach, improvements to minority outreach and representation, and military education.
A glance at the minutes of the University’s curriculum committee and graduate council meetings reveals how dynamic the curriculum is. Webster has the capacity to replicate its degree offerings to more and more of its geographically dispersed campuses. The 1997 catalog shows 30 degrees offered at extended locations compared to 46 degrees/programs today. Each of the five colleges and schools has expanded its offerings to extended locations during the past decade. No matter where the degree is offered, degree requirements remain consistent across the network.
The new Global International Relations program exemplifies the best of Webster’s capacity to develop a program which capitalizes on Webster’s unique set of global campuses while meeting society’s need for more international sensitivities. Students spend one full year studying full-time at four or five of Webster’s international locations, capitalizing on the specific faculty expertise and University connections with governmental and non-governmental organizations in each city. In today’s global world, this is a highly relevant alternative to the traditional M.A. in International Relations. Now in its third year, it has been a resounding success as exemplified by high retention and ever increasing signs of new cohorts.
The Theatre and Dance programs prepare students to become costume designers, lighting directors, and stage managers, for example, as well as offering professional training in acting and dance. Students in these programs work alongside professionals — Equity actors, technical staff from the St. Louis Repertory Theatre and Opera Theatre Saint Louis, for example — and are held to their standards. As a result, their designs, productions, and performances demonstrate that these students learn in ways that prepare them for entry into contemporary professional theatre.
Webster University is also a pioneer in audio education, teaching its uses in all media while emphasizing a hands-on approach. Beginning their freshman year, students in audio production work with professional-grade equipment to produce music recordings, radio spots, run live sound for concerts, learn sound design, and engineer audio for video and film. The School of Communications continually updates Webster’s production studio and media center to ensure that students learn with the latest equipment and technology.
With the era of digital technology changing the world of animation, students pursuing the BA in Interactive Digital Media with an emphasis in Animation take advantage of Webster’s animation production facilities to learn the core principles and techniques of the art. Integrating content and technique, students learn storytelling skills for short and long-form animation and express these forms using the latest digital animation tools.
Student educators in the M.A.T. in Educational Technology program learn the theory and practical knowledge needed to infuse their curricula and teaching with the latest technologies. With its emphasis on student-oriented learning processes, the program stresses the use of technology to enhance educator productivity, facilitate effective assessment, and maximize student learning with the latest methods and strategies.
The Certificate in Practical and Interdisciplinary Ethics arose from a highly successful project in the Philosophy Department, funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. In a series of courses, students learn the fundamentals of ethical theory and reasoning, then practically apply what they have learned in a variety of disciplines. As demands increase for accountability, integrity, and ethical consideration, this Certificate is highly relevant and provides an alternative for students who would not choose to major in philosophy, ethics, or related “values” disciplines.
The graduate certificate in Decision Support Systems provides information technology professionals and managers with the skills to develop and analyze systems in large-scale data warehouses that are used to support decision-making in a wide range of professions. Students study successful warehouse installations and gain handsome experience in their design and management, as well as in data modeling, data management, data mining, online analytical processing (OLAP), and business intelligence.
All undergraduate students are eligible to earn the commendation, “With International Distinction,” to mark the depth of their international education at Webster. To earn International Distinction, students must demonstrate academic proficiency in a langauge other than their native one, spend at least one term studying at an international campus (other than their home campus), and complete an international internship or other field experience. Webster records this award on students’ diplomas, both to celebrate their achievement and to encourage others to globalize their educations.
[EXHIBIT: HLC0.1 Undergraduate Catalog, HL0.2 Graduate Catalog, HLC0.1b Curriculum Committee Minutes, HLC0.2b Graduate Council Minutes, HLC2a.1 Program Brochures]
(For a fuller account of curriculum development see Criterion 3.)
Use of Technology in Academic Programming
The new Emerson Library has fostered academic integration across the network. The library supports the teaching, research, and intellectual pursuits of the faculty, students, and staff in Webster University’s worldwide network. The library offers a full array of public services on campus, including reference, faculty research services, electronic and traditional reserves, interlibrary loan, document delivery, and video reservations. See Information and Services for St. Louis campuses.
Equitable library services and resources are provided to our students and faculty off-campus through the library’s Passports system, which was commended by the 1998 North Central Association (NCA) team as a model for the delivery of instructional resources to distant learning communities. Passports offers more than 100 leased databases with access through a proxy server; reference service by e-mail or toll-free phone; free document delivery; electronic reserves (with file upload capabilities and a fax server that converts faxes to pdf’s); and video reservations.
See Information and Services for U.S. Campuses, Information and Services for International Campuses, and Information and Services for Online Programs.
In 2004, Webster University deployed a world-wide portal that included a set of course tools for instruction. While some Web-enhanced classes had previously been offered via WebCT, this was the first universally accessible tool set for using online resources in teaching and learning.
A Course Tool Home Page and corresponding set of tools (like chat room, discussion forum, shared file areas, etc.) was created for every single section each semester. The overall utilization of these tools continues to grow, and in January 2008, Webster will move to utilizing Blackboard Vista for both online delivery and for Web-enhanced instruction.
Webster has evolved through several online teaching and learning platforms and is currently in the process of migrating all existing online courses to the enterprise level platform Blackboard Vista. This new platform will provide for continued growth and scalability, and will also allow the university the opportunity to reengineer existing courses and programs in order to leverage the enterprise level features offered by Vista. This ongoing process of platform assessment over the life cycle of online programs and the continued investment in new infrastructure allows for the continuous improvement of the online course product.
[EXHIBIT: HLC2a.2 IT Flowchart]
The Academic Advising office has developed an online training module for advisors at the extended campuses. This module ensures that every advisor understands and can explain academic policies and procedures as they are approved and sanctioned by the home campus. Each advisor must approve full knowledge of the contents of the module before advising students.
[EXHIBIT: HLC2a.3 Advisor Training]
Webster developed an Adjunct Faculty Online Training Module in support of the work of full-time and part-time faculty alike. This module contains institutional policies, procedures, and protocols to ensure that all faculty have access to the information they need to succeed in working within Webster’s academic milieu.
[EXHIBIT: HLC2a.4 Adjunct Faculty Training]
Over the past four years, the number of multimedia equipped (“smart”) classrooms on the main campus has grown from about five to more than 40. As instructors make greater use of online materials and teaching tools they are now able to use this seamlessly from any one of the equipped facilities, using either computers that are there, or using a laptop.
Having these readily available and easy to use has promoted the integration of technology into the teaching and learning process at Webster. In addition, a concerted effort had been taken at Webster extended sites to equip each campus with multiple display projectors and laptops. These devices allow instructors at each site to utilize these same tools and technologies in their classroom situations.
[EXHIBIT: HLC2a.5 Smart Classrooms]
When the School of Communications moved into their facilities in Sverdrup Hall more than 15 years ago, a specialized instruction TV studio was installed. Two years ago, reflecting the changing technology in broadcast communications, the TV studio was overhauled and the original analog equipment was totally replaced with new digital equipment. The School of Communications now has a state-of-the-art facility to use in preparing their students.
[EXHIBIT: HLC3a SOC Report]
In response to the increasing trend of portable connectedness, Webster began installing wireless access in numerous locations across campus during the past several years. Most common areas used by students now have wireless access, including lounges, student center, eating areas, the Library quad, and other selected conference rooms.
Each year, the University continues to expand its deployment as resources allow, and this past year including initial deployment at some U.S. extended sites. The European and Thailand sites have also deployed wireless at their locations.
[EXHIBIT: HLC2a.2 IT Flowchart]
Webster has successfully implemented a centralized procedure to deal with disruptive students. The online, extended campus student handbook outlines these procedures which allows for the appropriate local administrator to carefully follow well practiced procedures, using guidance from the home campus student affairs unit, if necessary. These processes have been utilized successfully with the occasional disruptive adult student at our metro campuses, as well as with resident students living at our European and Thailand campuses.
[EXHIBIT: HLC0iia.1 Online Student Handbook]
In 2002 the Academic Distance Learning Center was established to provide training, instructional design, and course development support to department faculty in the colleges/schools as they decide to move programs to the online environment.
A team consisting of the faculty member subject matter expert, the instructional designer, and the course developer work together to plan and implement each new online course. Additional teaching faculty in these online programs are then selected from the pool of existing Webster faculty worldwide, tactically trained in online course implementation best practices, and are provided ongoing support through a course mentoring system and program leadership teams.
[EXHIBIT: HLC0.29 ADLC]
Use of Technology to Improve and Streamline Business Processes
Emerging information technologies in our broader society have resulted in Webster continually adapting and integrating new electronic mechanisms for managing its operations.
In 2005, Webster rolled out the first phase of its new, integrated Web site. This new, audience-focused site has enabled Webster to put forward a consistent face to its external constituencies no matter the location. Now, instead of extended campuses having their own autonomous sites, all have a branded look, with the same information architecture. Of major significance is the module accessed by the “admission and aid” global navigation bar.
New students to Webster can look up any site, receive coordinated and unified messages, while at the same time receiving information specific to the campus of their choice. They may then apply to Webster using an online application. This process has brought a consistency into the admission process that was only possible after the Web site overhaul. It has omitted redundant data entry activity, and improved processing time from days to hours.
In 2004, a complete overhaul of the student billing system was completed that encompassed several significant improvements. The overhaul provided the capability for students to utilize Web access from anywhere in the world to view their outstanding bill, and to make online payment via credit card.
The institution achieved administrative efficiencies by adding European campuses to the central billing system (including billing in the local currencies of the campuses), and added flexibility into the billing algorithms that reflected the increasing complexity of the student populations and enrollment patterns.
Over the past several years, Webster University has made a concerted effort to ensure that every campus has high-speed access to the Internet and that each administrative office at those campuses has full access to administrative information systems. That goal was finally achieved in 2007, as older frame-relay technology was replaced with digital T1s, and software VPNs were used to enable access from smaller sites. The University has continued to invest and build-out the infrastructure connectivity to the Internet.
In 2002, the total connectivity from the main campus was about 7.5 MB. In 2003, that grew to 45 MB, and as of last year, it increased to a total of 65 MB. In 2008, it will again grow by another 10 to 20 MB. This connectivity is crucial in keeping students connected to online course tools, to providing students and faculty worldwide with access to our online library resources, to deliver online degree programs, and to facilities administrative processing, including Web-based services for our students.
In 2004, Webster deployed a University-wide portal that linked all segments and constituencies of the university. This portal is available anywhere in the world, and includes a single point of access to university-provided e-mail, to group tools for collaboration, for course tools for instruction, and access to a variety of university services for faculty and staff, including access to the library resources. This portal links all Webster faculty, staff, and students across the world.
[EXHIBIT: HLC2a.2 IT Flowchart]
In summary, by utilizing new technology, Webster has re-engineered business processes across the network ensuring uniformity, reducing redundancy and increasing accountability. Webster has capitalized on new technologies to provide new classroom learning as well as online courses and curricula.
Webster is distinctively poised to meet society’s demands for improved international perspectives as the world becomes flatter. The University has committed significant resources to achieving its international goal of becoming a premier international university.
Most often cited as evidence of Webster’s truly international mission and certainly a major investment by Webster University is Webster’s international campuses, partners and partnership exchanges. Webster has campuses, partnerships, and exchange partners in 10 countries – 14 teaching sites. Webster has campuses in London, Leiden, Amsterdam, Geneva, Vienna and partnership programs in Bratislava, Budapest and Graz in Europe. Webster has campuses in Shanghai, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Bangkok and Cha-am/Hua-Hin in Asia.
The Webster international campuses deliver the same curriculum as the campuses in the United States. The campuses have international students, faculty and staff as part of the make up of the campuses. We have partnership programs with Kansai University in Osaka, Japan and the Autonomous University of Guadalajara, Mexico. In response to recognition of decreased need in Bermuda, Webster made the decision to close its campus there. Courses were offered to the few remaining students, permitting them to complete their degrees in the classroom or online.
[EXHIBIT: HLC2a.6 International Campuses, Partners, and Partnership Exchanges]
Many of Webster’s campuses and partners have international accreditation or recognition by the Ministry of Education where they are located. International Accreditations and Recognitions are as follows: The British Accreditation Council for Independent Further and Higher Education, the Austrian Ministry for Education and Culture, The Foundation for International Business Administration Accreditation (FIBAA), The Thailand Ministry of Education, and Recognition by the Beijing Ministry of Education in China.
[EXHIBIT: HLC2a.7 International Accreditations]
A large part of the mission of Webster University is to promote international perspectives in the curriculum among the students and faculty and to educate diverse populations locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. The Colleges and Schools all have international programs and activities within their particular units. Webster University students can graduate with “International Distinction” if they have second language proficiency, a study abroad experience, and an international field experience outside the classroom. The distinction is noted on the diploma. International Distinction was approved by the curriculum committee in Spring 2005.
[EXHIBIT: HLC0.1 Undergraduate Catalog]
Increasing the number of students and faculty who study, teach, or do research at a campus other than their home campus was a primary goal of Webster’s 2003-2008 Strategic Plan. Webster has made a major effort to understand and address obstacles which deter undergraduates from experiencing a study abroad. Because study abroad is expensive, Webster’s distinctive World Traveler program underwrites airfare.
To make study abroad less disruptive for students, special procedures have been developed to smooth billing for students in countries with foreign currencies and pricing structures; and many course offerings have been modified to accommodate incoming students from other campuses.
In the last 10 years, the number of students studying abroad has gone from 79 in 1997-98 to 298 in 2006-07. Faculty movement has also increased. During the past five years, more than 100 full- and part-time faculty have taught or researched abroad.
More housing was added in St. Louis and Geneva to facilitate easy movement of students throughout the Webster network. The Multicultural Center and International Student Affairs departments were merged in order to provide multicultural programming and increase the interaction of international students and U.S. students of color. We intentionally increased the number of international students working in Student Affairs departments.
Several members of the Student Affairs staff traveled to Webster’s international campuses to improve student life throughout the worldwide network: associate dean Tammy Gocial spent six weeks at each of five campuses in 2002-03; associate dean Colette Cummings met with other orientation directors in Geneva in 2004; associate dean John Buck helped Geneva staff set policies and expectations for their new housing in 2005; two staff members from Career Services provided workshops at the Geneva, Leiden, and Vienna campuses in 2005. Resident assistants from Geneva will travel to St. Louis for combined RA/OL training in 2007.
Established through funding from Energizer Holdings, Inc., the Energizer Global Staff Exchange Program offers a unique opportunity for four Webster staff members, selected annually by a committee of faculty and staff, to spend two weeks at one of Webster’s international campuses.
The program awards $2,500 stipends to each of the selected staff members to cover all of their expenses for the three-week exchange to the home campus of St. Louis or any of the international, extended campuses. These staff members are given access to the global education marketplace, and Webster University benefits from the development of a cosmopolitan staff with a global presence and perspective. To date, 12 Webster staff members have participated in the program.
[EXHIBIT: HLC1d Mobility]
Webster’s Office of International Admissions is staffed to recruit international students to St. Louis and provide centralized recruitment and admissions support to all international locations. The Assistant Vice President for International Recruitment is based in Geneva, Switzerland. The Assistant Vice President coordinates Webster’s global recruitment outreach while the directors of each campus coordinate local recruitment efforts. Webster has a full-time international credential expert enabling 24-hour turnaround in answering transfer credit questions from around the world.
The new integrated Web site and the ActiveAdmissions module allows for online application from anywhere in the world. Each year, admissions staff from around world gather for one week of meetings to ensure the coordination of efforts.
[EXHIBIT: HLC2a.8 International Recruitment]
To enable European-educated students with three-year baccalaureate degrees to pursue an MBA degree at Webster University, the bridge program was established in direct response to the Bologna Declaration for European graduate management education. The Bologna Declaration has been signed by 40 European countries who agreed to align their students of higher education to facilitate greater transparency, increase mobility and rationalize the granting of degrees across Europe. Under the agreement, European students henceforth will graduate first with a Bachelor’s degree.
From an American perspective, this reservoir of graduates offers an attractive pool of prospective master’s students. The Bridge program will benefit Webster University immensely. (See also discussion in Criterion Five.)
Webster takes pride in its “culture of acceptance.” Though located in a primarily Caucasian suburb, each year there are 8% African Americans and 10-12% minority students recruited in the freshmen class. These students are supported socially in part by Webster’s active Office of Multicultural Affairs.
In 2007, recognized student organizations included the Association for African American Collegians, Students for Gender Equality, Webster LGBT Alliance, Women in Media. The University’s African American alumni chapter is especially active. In 2006-07, full-time undergraduates voted to pay $30/semester for improved student programming, at least half of which goes to support international and multicultural speakers and programs. (See also the discussion of NSSE data in Criterion Three.)
As a percent of the student body, Webster has enjoyed increasing numbers of students of color in both graduate and undergraduate populations in recent years. From 2000- 05, the percentage of undergraduate African American students has increased from 8.7% to 9.6% The number of undergraduate Hispanic students has increased from 1.2% to 2.2%. The number of undergraduate Asian students has increased from 1.2% to 2.2%, while the nonresident aliens have increased from 16.6% to 19.2%. The graduate student population has had a more dramatic increase in students of color over the same time period.
[EXHIBIT: HLC0.3 Sum and Substance]
In addition, in the last five years, Webster has achieved significant national rankings according to Black Issues in Higher Education and Diverse Issues in Higher Education. For the past decade, Webster has ranked number one in the category of African American Master’s degrees, and we have consistently been highly ranked in awarding of Hispanic and Native American Master’s degrees.
[EXHIBIT: HLC4c.3 Diverse Issues in Higher Education]
The CORE and BEST programs provide two examples of recent outreaches designed to recruit minority students.
With a $50,000 grant from the Monsanto Fund, the CORE Program was funded to support the School of Business & Technology. This eight-week program offers first-generation minority college-bound students, along with their parents and guardians, to come to a collegiate environment; assists these students with their academic preparation, and addresses the requirements of college applications, admissions, and financial aid to enhance their chances for success in higher education.
Upon completion of this program, each student is awarded one college credit from Webster University. Since its inception in 2004, more than 40 students have completed the program. Moreover, all the students that participated in the CORE program have applied for admission to an institution of their choice, thus evidencing the success of this program. We are pleased to report that a number of these students later enrolled at Webster University to pursue bachelor’s degrees. The third round of programs took place in summer 2007.
The Business Educational Scholarship Team (BEST) initiative was started with a seed gift of $15,000 from the St. Louis Regional Business Council and Ernst & Young, LLP. BEST benefits minority high school seniors who have expressed interest in pursing a business-related major in college. BEST students attend special lectures by School of Business & Technology professors and meet with various St. Louis business leaders during the nine-week class.
Each student who completed the BEST program was awarded college credit hours from Webster University. Significantly, all participants in this program gained admission to the college or university of their choice. The second round of the program took place in the Fall of 2006. The program has graduated 35 students to date.
[EXHIBIT: HLC2a.9 CORE/BEST]
Webster University takes great pride in selecting, hiring, and developing a strong and diverse faculty contingent and high caliber administrative and support staff. As shown on the table to follow, some progress has been made since 1996 toward increasing the diversity of our employee population.
Sixty-three percent of our full-time faculty and staff are female and forty-six percent of our faculty are female. The University’s percentage of full-time employees who are minorities increased from 9% in 1996 to 13% in 2006.
The University has made a strong commitment to diversity of students, faculty, and staff. The Civil Rights Compliance Committee is composed of representatives from all three constituencies. The Vice President and Executive Assistant to the President is our designated affirmative action officer – linking our commitment directly to the executive office. Recruitment activities include recruitment through minority publications and contain the statement: Webster University is an Equal Employment Affirmative Action Employer; Women and Minorities are encouraged to apply.
Concerning diversity, the results of our self-study show that we have much to celebrate in the area of student recruiting and achievement. We have made progress, but not realized our aspirations, with respect to faculty and staff. As discussed in Chapter One, this has been recognized in our strategic planning process, with the result that the University formally commits itself to continuing to develop the means to live up to our ideals regarding diversity.
Since the early 1970s, Webster has been a major education provider for the military. In recent years the military has emphasized the importance of continuing education for its recruits. As such Webster has aggressively added new locations, and degree programs, has provided incentives to soldiers through special military rates, has advertised and promoted online offerings to support the Army’s “Anytime Anywhere” theme, and provided leadership in the use and development of the army portal CTAM.
[EXHIBIT: HLC2a.10 CTAM]
Webster University offers graduate programs at 41 military installations, provides advising and service centers at 19 military installations, and offers cooperative degree programs with 20 professional military schools. Currently, more than 6,000 students or 25% of Webster University’s students attend class on a military installation and more than 6% of these students attend classes online.
Since 1997, Webster University has opened 21 new military campuses, developed and implemented the advising and services centers for the military, created the master’s cooperative degree programs and graduate online programs.
[EXHIBIT: HLC2a.13 Military Programs]
Webster University has agreements with 20 Department of Defense schools to offer cooperative master’s degree programs to current students and graduates of those schools. Cooperative master’s degree programs provide students the opportunity to complete a Webster University master’s degree concurrent with enrollment in the Department of Defense school, or following graduation.
Partner schools have curricula that are comparable in content and quality with particular Webster University master’s programs. For example, the U.S. Army Military Police School at Fort Leonard Wood offers a Webster University cooperative master’s degree in Business and Organizational Security Management.
Students in this program are awarded transfer credit toward the Webster degree program. At some schools, Webster credit may be transferred into the military curriculum.
[EXHIBIT: HLC2a.11 Cooperative Degree Programs]
Cooperative degree programs attract many of the brightest and most capable officers in the military. The senior officer corps, including generals and admirals, draws heavily from this population. These programs provide a unique opportunity for military officers to earn graduate degrees while pursuing their professional military education. Many of the military schools enroll students for six months to one year.
Online options provide the opportunity to complete the Webster degree from subsequent duty stations, if necessary.