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5/31/16 - End of the Year Letter

Posted: 5/27/2016 4:23:00 PM

 

Dear Webster University faculty and staff colleagues:

As we close out the 2015-16 academic year, we want to take a moment to reflect on our accomplishments and challenges, while also looking forward to the opportunities that lie ahead. We proudly celebrated our Centennial year, using it as a springboard to launch our new strategic plan, “Global Impact For the Next Century.”

This new strategic plan builds on Webster University’s past accomplishments, while assuring Webster’s success in a time of rapid change. During this past year as we began to implement the strategic plan, our initiatives have addressed three challenges for Webster: 1) effectively leveraging our Centennial year to increase Webster’s visibility as well as to boost donor cultivation and commitment 2) further enhancing our academic profile through external validation such as increased scholarly contributions, grants, and endowed positions and 3) strengthening our efforts to recalibrate our business model in order to ensure the consistent quality and responsiveness of our programs and services across our campus network.

Following is an assessment of our progress in each of these key areas and our accomplishments in each. We’ll conclude with an overview of next steps.

Advancement Plan

Challenge: Effectively leverage our centennial to increase Webster’s visibility as well as to boost donor cultivation and commitment

Approach: With the participation of many individuals and many Webster campuses, we focused our Centennial activities on signature events, enhanced media attention, and increased levels of giving that would build our university endowment. We engaged the community through a broad-based Centennial Committee. We also established a framework that encouraged accountability for meeting goals.

Results:

These successes underscore the need for us to work together to further develop our human resources and academic leadership, while continuing to build and sustain our vibrant, international alumni network.

Academics

Challenge: Further enhance academic reputation through professional accreditations, increased scholarly productivity and publications, grants, and endowed positions.

Approach: Our activities in this area are focused on quality improvements in terms of academic offerings and student support, and in partnership with the advancement division, pursuing major grants.

Results:

  • Webster launched 34 new academic offerings (programs, minors, certificates) on ground and online.
  • We continued to strengthen our full time faculty resources worldwide. Among the 130 new employees who joined Webster this past year were 10 full-time faculty.
  • These programs received accreditations: Professional Counseling program (St. Louis); Nursing; Webster University, Vienna.
  • We have hired the holder of the Browning Professorship in Biological Sciences, our second endowed professorship.
  • At the same time we have significantly increased Webster’s endowment, we have secured commitments for our third and fourth endowed professorships.
  • We expanded the Provost’s Student/Faulty Collaborative Research Grant program, with international campus participation for the first time.
  • The First in College initiative was created to support student retention and success.
  • The alumni mentoring program is growing rapidly.
  • A new Veterans’ Center opened with support from Home Depot.
  • International recruitment, WINS network, international partners, and study abroad goals were expanded.
  • Twenty-two faculty and 30 student supported in undergraduate research.
  • Webster departments and divisions engaged university and larger community members in initiatives to further diversity and inclusion, such as: Critical Conversations: Embracing Diversity and Inclusion Summit with 4 keynote speakers and 350 in attendance; Diversity and Inclusion Working Groups; Safe Zone Training; WSA Achieving Equity Series; Student Affairs Sponsored Speakers and Events; Shared readings for first year classes with focus on racial inequalities and social justice.
  • The innovative quality of our academic programs and faculty contributions have attracted external funding from:
  • We hosted our second Woodrow Wilson fellow and have competed successfully for an award in 2017.
  • Faculty have produced a substantial increase in their scholarly output.

Business Model

Challenge: Strengthening our efforts to recalibrate our business model in order to ensure the consistent quality and responsiveness of our programs and services across our campus network.

Approach: We have focused on improved operations, and human resources, along with organizational structure and our infrastructure (physical and technology) enhancements. Our ultimate goal: to achieve an integrated, efficient, financially sustainable organization capable of addressing current challenges, while also being a leader in global higher education.

Results:

Structural

  • We introduced innovative technology that enables us to achieve academic and structural efficiencies, particularly at our extended and international sites and campuses.

Operational

  • As a result of site and program review, we phased out 11 on ground sites.
  • Launched relationships with two new investment management firms, adopting a more active approach to managing our investments.
  • Joint recruitment and marketing efforts were created at our international sites.
  • We engaged in more active recruitment of graduate students and strengthened the relationships with community colleges, through MOUs for dual admissions.
  • We completed the move of our Gateway Campus in St. Louis from the Old Post Office to the Arcade Building, which gives us enhanced visibility and state-of-the-art facilities.
  • We completed the relocation of our Vienna Campus.
  • Webnet+ enabled delivery of 1800+ credits with 95% student completion rate.
  • We convened informal and formal meetings with many employees at a number of campus locations, including adjunct faculty, to learn more about needed improvements in work culture, communications, benefits, and many other topics to guide needed actions and priorities.

 

The Year(s) Ahead

Finally, please be assured that our collective efforts continue to be focused on improving the quality of our academic programs and services, which will strengthen enrollments through recruitment and retention. In turn, those efforts will improve our financial health. Executing the strategies outlined above will enhance our institutional competiveness and make Webster University an even more attractive option for Webster students.

Critical to our effectiveness and progress will be our ability to collaborate and keep the lines of communication open. Open dialogue results in solid, actionable, and innovative ideas.

While the activities and results reported here are linked to the strategic plan balanced scorecard, the completion of one year’s implementation of the new strategic plan will not occur until fall semester 2016, and as a result, scorecard data are currently incomplete. We anticipate a busy summer of recruitment at all Webster campus locations.

As we bring 2015-16 to a close and look forward to 2016-17, we thank each of you for your dedication and commitment to global academic and operational excellence. Together, we can and will continue to make a difference as we provide a positive academic environment for our students and an enriching professional experience for each member of our university community. We thank you.

Sincerely,

Beth Stroble
President, Webster University
    Julian Schuster, Ph.D.
Senior VP, Provost, COO